TITLE: THE PREACHER
AUTHOR: CAMILA LACKBERG
PUBLISHER: HARPER COLLINS
GENRE: CRIME FICTION
COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
In the fishing community of Fjallbacka, life is remote, peaceful – and for some, tragically short.
Foul play was always suspected in the disappearance twenty years ago of two young holidaymakers in the area. Now a young boy out playing has confirmed this grim truth. Their remains, discovered with those of a fresh victim, send the town into shock.
Local detective Patrik Hedstrom, expecting a baby with his girlfriend Erica, can only imagine what it is like to lose a child. When a second young girl goes missing, Hedstrom’s attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. The suspect list is long but time is short – which of this family’s dark secrets will provide the vital clue?
THE OPENING LINE
The day was off to a promising start.
The Preacher is my favourite Lackberg novel so far. It’s her second novel so earlier than other ones I’ve read. Lackberg takes two missing girls found dead decades later as her theme this time. I’m working on the first draft of a novel about a missing girl who becomes the victim of a serial killer. I’m fascinated by this genre at the moment.
I love the way The Preacher is structured. It follows an almost identical structure to the other Lackberg novels I’ve read. The 430+ page novel is only 13 chapters long. The chapters are fairly long and consist of various scenes from the different story threads such as Patrick investigating the bodies found, Erica preparing for the birth of her first child and the lives of numerous members of the Hult family. These are alternated to flashbacks from the 70’s when the girls went missing and their subsequent prolonged torture and death. I think this structure works really well. Lackberg never leaves the reader in the same place long enough to get bored. The story is filtered in dribs and drabs which creates a compulsion to read on. The flashbacks are also a great device for filtering in backstory without it becoming tedious.
The villain in The Preacher is very original. I found him very creepy and unsettling. Lackberg doesn’t make him a cartoon villain or ‘bad guy’. He’s not a run of the mill psychopath. Lackberg makes him human enough to make the reader feel a bit sorry for him. He didn’t torture and kill the girls became he was a sick bastard. He thought he could reclaim the healing powers he lost as a child. I found this creepy on a whole other level.
Lackberg’s other characters are spot on. I like Patrick and Erica more and more with each novel I read. They were younger in The Preacher than the other novels I read. I liked getting to know them in the early stages of their relationship. It was a bit weird that Erica is only pregnant with their first child who’s been a toddler in other novels. I felt I really knew the characters because Lackberg wrote them so well.
In The Preacher like the other Lackberg novels I’ve read, the world of Fjallbacka, a little village in Sweden came to vivid life. I think she did a great job of creating a sense of place. Fjallbacka felt real to me. I found this especially impressive because The Preacher is set in a foreign country.
Lackberg impresses me with the lack of gore in her novels. The Preacher is no exception. Despite the grisly subject matter Lackberg manages to avoid blood and guts.
I think the Hult family were fascinating and quite amusing. They bring a whole new meaning to the word ‘dysfunction’. Two sides of this clan have been at war for years and nobody alive really remembers what for. They reminded me of the crazy family in Mysteries of Winterthurn by Joyce Carol Oates.
I think Lackberg could have thought of a better title than The Preacher. The villain is a preacher, son of the infamous ‘The Preacher’, a cult leader from Fjallbacka who died many years ago. I think this made it clear a member of the Hult clan was the killer.
I thought The Preacher was a brilliant novel. This is what great crime fiction should be. Lackberg is definitely one of my favourite writers.