She’s Never Coming Back, by Hans Koppel (Sphere, RRP $25):
This book by established Swedish author Petter Lidbeck, writing under the pseudonym Hans Koppel, kicked off with a real sense of purpose and drama, with a murder popping up right at the beginning to grab my attention.
The story then continued to build tension with a dodgy car crash and then the abduction of a young woman as she was heading home from work.
That young woman, Ylva – wife of Mike and mother of little Sanna – knows the people who have taken her and seems to understand why, but that doesn’t make her situation any less traumatic.
Meanwhile, at home, her husband and daughter begin to wonder where she is. Mike thinks back to Ylva’s recent affair and when she has not returned home by morning he begins to wonder if she has again cheated on him.
Eventually, though, he accepts that something is terribly wrong and calls the police.
As all this has been going on, Ylva has been suffering at the hands of her captors: worse than the violence is that she can see the suffering of her family because her captors have surveillance cameras outside their home, beaming live images of husband and daughter as they go about their lives. And this is made even worse by the realisation that she is actually being held in the basement of a house right next to the home of her grieving family, but is powerless to ask for help.
As with so many of these Swedish thrillers, there is a fair amount of violence (sexual and otherwise) directed at the main female character, but the real horror and tension comes from the awful sense of helplessness that comes from the victim knowing she is so close to home, but so far from help.
When I got to this stage of the book I was hooked and expecting something pretty good. Sadly, from there the story sped impatiently to the finish line, with none of the finesse or fear shown in the opening chapters.
What started out with so much promise, as a story full of torment and dark tension, ended up feeling a little one-dimensional.