Review: The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

The Forgotten Girls is a mystery following Detective Louise Rick. She’s been tasked with starting a department called the Special Search Agency, where they investigate unsolved missing persons cases. Her first case’s victim is a woman found in the woods, who Louise discovers was a patient at a state mental institution and has been thought dead for the past thirty years.

I picked up The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel without knowing two important details about it: 1) it’s part of a series, and 2) it’s translated from Danish. While the translation wasn’t really an issue (It just meant that I wasn’t familiar with how far the locations were from one another and I had a harder time keeping the characters straight), the fact that it was the seventh book in the series definitely threw me off.

I’m starting off this time with the aspects I didn’t like (so I can end on a positive note). I thought the characterization of Louise, her friend Camilla, and her partner Eik was not well developed. I wanted to know more about Louise and Eik’s relationship. Camilla seemed to lack depth and value as a character, as if she was only included in the story to push along the plot at a couple points. I’m inclined to attribute this opinion to the fact that I’ve only read one book out of what is now a nine-book series. I know I’m probably missing out on a ton of development from the other installments.

I also wanted more from the institution and its patients. The patients and the first victim seemed to lose significance after providing the title. Moreover, there were side-plots that weren’t really examined. Louise and her neighbor want to buy a little house with a garden. But then she’s hesitant and almost backs out! And then she decides she’s in! Those are the only three occasions when this is mentioned. And then at the end, she and her foster son go to their vacation home. Since when have they had this home? Why is it never mentioned before? Why are they buying a house with the neighbor if they already have a second home? But again, maybe this stuff is covered in previous or subsequent books.

I will say that I was impressed with the end of this novel, though for an odd reason. I’ve read quite a few mysteries in the past few years, and I’ve reached the point where it’s hard to disturb or surprise me. This ending both disturbed and surprised me. While I still thought the ending was a little gratuitous, I have to give credit to Blaedel. That ending was pretty disturbing, and I think I mean that as a compliment. …This may have been a less positive ending to the review than I intended.

Title: The Forgotten Girls
Author: Sara Blaedel, translated by Signe Rød Golly
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
My rating: ☆☆☆ (3 stars)
Recommended for: Anyone who likes mysteries and doesn’t mind being disoriented for a bit. Or anyone who speaks Danish and has read the six books that precede this one.

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