The Swedish Girl: Alex Gray
Can someone hide behind two personalities in order to be the person that she wants others to see and the one her father approves of in public. Eva Magnusson was stunning, vibrant in her own social circles, admired, adored by most males that she met and yet when faced with her father Henrik she was refined, demure and understated. Clothing worn in front of her father was more sophisticated and toned down while the moment he left she became more of a harlot ready to party at a moment’s notice. Coming from Sweden into a luxurious flat in Glasgow, Eva’s father bought her this in order to keep her in the style she was accustomed to and yet making sure her flat mates met with his approval. Kristy Wilson is not very pretty yet she is perceptive and smart. Her father is a copper on the local force and that was her ticket to being accepted as one of the flat mates. Eva and Kristy became fast friends and rode the public transportation together to classes. But, that would end sooner than anyone would expect as a party attended by all the flat mates ended in murder. Eva left supposedly by herself or did someone follow her home as Kristy enters the flat and finds her dead. Finding the Swedish girl lying dead in the flat and one of the mates, Colin Young arrested for her murder but something does not ring true and why does Kristy go on a one woman journey to find the real killer hoping to enlist the help of the police. Detective Superintendent Lorimer is not the lead on the cast DI Jo Grant is and she collects the evidence and finds relates that Colin is the killer and has him arrested. But, is he really the one or is the wrong man behind bars? Solly Brightman is a psychologist and works with Lorimer on many cases to unfold the evidence, look at it from different angles and in this case hoping to learn who really killed Eva. When Kristy brings some superficial evidence to Lorimer after getting permission from he father to go through her things, one tiny piece of evidence could change it all. Fiona Travers was going for a run and attacked by an unknown assailant and then another young woman named Lindsay is attacked and is heavily guarded in the hospital. Is there a link? The appearances of the three girls are similar is that the link? Kristy leads the police to a lecturer that might know something as not only did he, Colin, Roger and Gary have relationships with Eva but someone unknown to all of them too.
The four university students tell a different story as Eva Magnusson’s personality and lifestyle come to light. Her father has a different picture of his daughter and although she is a free spirit at times when dealing with him she was a totally controlled young girl whose father rules the roosts but would not let anything touch or hurt her in any way. Each of the flatmates either lost a parent or in the case of Kristy was a policeman’s daughter and suitable to live in the flat. Kristy was the cook and sort of like a mother figure to Colin Young who was studying writing, Roger Dunbar and Gary Calderwood who both seemed to be more than just a casual flatmate to Eva as the relationships unfold. Social classes and caste systems are at the heart of the novel as Eva was from a highly respected English class and these four had to meet at least some of the requirements if any one of these fellows would turn out to be someone she wanted as a beau. So, who beat and strangled her and why? Eva had sex with several before she died but who was last as the DNA will reveal? Colin Young was the one that DI Jo Grant pins it on and Kristy goes to Detective Superintendent Lorimer over her head because she knows she is wrong. Fiona and Lindsay and Eva are all young blondes and two were killed while Colin is in prison. Enlisting Kristy’s help to search Eva’s room brings out the information about her having sex with several flatmates and possibly others that have not been found. Solly and Kristy both visit Colin in prison hoping that he will remember something as he creates a journal or log of events as he describes his feelings about Eva in a poetic and vivid style.
Several voices are heard that of the deranged killer as he takes the lives of three young woman and the voice of Colin as he creates his journal and thoughts about his feelings for Eva. Solly Brightman puts the reasoning behind the killer’s actions as he profiles the person as a deranged person who is off his meds and was once or should still be confined. Detective Sergeant Alistair Wilson of the Strathclyde police department along with DI Grant are not convinced that his daughter Kirsty is right about Colin but Lorrimer is bent on proving her right but things take on many sorted turns and we learn more about someone named Anders Anderson and another lad who were part of Eva’s sexual circle.
Author Alex Gray allows readers inside the mind of a father who is domineering, controlling and whose primary goal was to orchestrate his daughter’s life like a symphony conductor who conducts with total perfection and precision over his players. Another colorful character is the next-door neighbor Derek McCubbin caught living with an unfeeling daughter who seems to thrive on her own existence yet plagued with taking care of her recalcitrant father. Is he really mentally incapacitated? Why does he hate so much and what he reveals about Eva is it true or is he delusional in his revelations? Merryfield 24 was the address and Gary Calderwood seemed to fit the bill for the right kind of partner for Eva but she had more when you meet Dirk McGregor who was having an affair with her and did not want his wife to find out. Arrogant and rude to Lorimer just by his demeanor and tone alone, you wonder what else he is hiding. Many different talks or interrogations with the members of the flat and we learn about Roger and his feelings for Eva but the voice most pronounced is Colin’s from prison as he takes the reader inside his feelings for Eva and even allows us to learn more about her father. The other voice that is just as loud is that of the killer as we relive the deaths and take part in them one by one.
When the pieces start falling into place and the body count rises the police question Lindsey in the hospital and get a picture of the killer and what might have happened at the party that Eva attended.
Solly and Lorimer focus on the flatmates but something about Eva’s father leads readers and these two men to think that there is something hidden and maybe he had something to do with his daughter’s death? Colin laments in prison and is about to learn that he is going to trial as the killer of the other three girls is caught but the person who killed Eva and her death points to him and no one else? But, something is missing and Lorimer sends Kirsty back to go through Eva’s things and then startling revelation and the truth behind someone’s whereabouts comes to light and things happen and the end result you won’t expect. Who killed Eva and why? Why did some think she was sweet yet at times too friendly and close to too many young men? Why did some think she was rude, made fun of them and not exactly who she appeared to be? The ending will make you say I can’t believe it but a harsh reality comes out when someone feels alone and dejected by those that are supposed to care about them they might project that same thought about how others care about him/her too.
Great characters and Kirsty just might make a better copper than working in hospitality but that’s up to our creative author who once again keeps us guessing every step of the way. What happens when someone comes from another town or county and the ending is sad? The fate of one young Swedish Girl just might be the same for others if they are not careful.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine