Rating: 3 / 5
I am a HUGE fan of used bookstores – I really couldn’t afford to read as much as I do without getting a good deal on books in addition to using my local libraries! I have a fabulous little used book store that I have been visiting since I was in junior high (a LOT of years ago), but it takes a good half hour to get there. I definitely still make the trip, but that takes a little more planning than when I used to be able to just pop by after school.
There is one used bookstore near where I live now, but it largely caters to a Japanese speaking audience. Sadly, my reading is limited to just English so it is always a gamble to see if I can find anything that peaks my interest on the couple of English bookshelves they stock.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS by Sara Blaedel is one book I picked up at my local shop without knowing anything about it. The dark cover drew me in and I noticed that it was translated fiction from Denmark. Knowing that I had a few translated fiction prompts to fulfill for various reading challenges, it seemed a good pick.
Trigger warnings: violence, rape, child abuse and suicide
THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS follows Detective Louise Rick who is heading up a newly established special search unit in charge of finding missing persons, specializing in those cases which can’t be classified as standard disappearances. Her first big case occurs when a woman is found dead in the forest with no identification and no one to claim her.
While they don’t suspect foul play, they need to know who she is. They eventually put her picture out to the media and some significant facial scarring from an old burn wound catches the eye of a woman who once knew her as a child.
The case becomes more complicated when Louise learns that the woman is one of two, twins who were sent away to a home for the mentally disabled. Families were encouraged to leave their children in such institutions and ‘forget’ them, hence the title of the novel.
To add even more complication, it turns out that the twins were listed as deceased when they were children years ago. Louise is therefore searching to find out why a false death certificate was created and what happened to the still missing twin.
What I didn’t realize when I picked this book up was that this book is actually seventh in a series featuring this detective. The main story is well encapsulated in this single novel, but it was clear that there were back stories to some of her personal relationships hinted at here which were likely more fleshed out in prior series installments. Issues are also raised in a bigger behind the scenes mystery that will be continued in future books. This worked as a standalone book in my opinion, though I think I likely would have been more connected to the characters if I knew more of their backstory.
This is a very dark novel with trigger warnings for violence, rape, child abuse and suicide. All that said, the author does bring in some lighter moments between Louise and her adopted son and her friends which give her life and the novel as a whole some balance. I don’t feel immediately compelled to read the series in order, but I would definitely be interested to read more from this author in the future.