The Boy In The Headlights: not the book to begin with

Bot HeadlightsThe boy of the title and prologue has nearly nothing to do with most of this book, so if you were expecting a ‘kidnapped child / distraught parent’ domestic drama then you’ve picked up the wrong kind of Scandi crime. All the stuff about the young lad who almost gets run over in the prologue is almost irrelevant to the central story – it’s the threads concerning Detectives Munch and Krüger in the synopsis which are significant.

So if you’ve not read the earlier two books in this series then I advise you to go back and start from the beginning. I’d read one of them, ages ago, and my dim memories weren’t extensive enough to make me familiar with the key characters in this Norwegian investigation of a series of strange killings.

The opening chapters are all about getting the band back together; reuniting a special crime squad of unique individuals with specific talents. Each brief summary of their situation wasn’t sufficient to let me connect with the key characters before they were plunged into emotional and professional turmoil in the current case.

This book’s story is expertly told however, from the perspective of the victims and their families as well as the detectives, forensic specialists and IT experts who are pitted against a peculiarly determined killer. The murders start with the death of a beautiful ballerina, dressed ready to dance, but found in an isolated lake in the rural hinterland.

We’re given tantalising glimpses of what might (or might not) be the killer/s, and there’s a satisfying blend of procedural detail mixed with the insightful brilliance of the key female detective – Mia, a deeply troubled young woman who’s barely come to terms with the events of the previous books. If you’re a fan of Saga Norén then you’ll definitely appreciate Mia, although you need to understand what’s happened to her in earlier episodes.

And that’s the biggest problem with The Boy (well, apart from the strange emphasis imbued by the title). Although it does contain a standalone story, the nuances of the plot and the impact of events upon the characters really don’t carry much weight if they’re strangers to you. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I’d recently read the other books in the series.

7/10
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Boy In The Headlights by Samuel Bjork is available at Amazon

——

What happens when someone like Lisbeth Salander takes on someone like Jack Reacher?

Find out in the Killing Sisters trilogy of crime-thrillers at Amazon

 

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