The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel (Book Review)

forgotten girls
The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel is another addition to the growing and popular Scandinavian crime drama genre that was broken open by the internationally famous Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. The Forgotten Girls is the seventh in the Louise Rick series of crime novels and though the character certainly has moments that might have been better explained if the reader had read the prior novels, the plot and story itself stands on its own. The Forgotten Girls is a tense crime drama that highlights the abusive nature of mental healthcare of years past.

“…I’m sure you understand,’ she said. ‘that many children like that did not have any contact with their parents once they’d been handed over to us, Several of them never saw their parents again so we didn’t necessarily know the names of their relatives. They were called forgotten children.’
‘But surely their families didn’t write them off just because they’d been put in an institution?’ Louise objected.
‘Quite a few did…”

The body of an unidentified woman is found in the forests of Denmark, outside of the Avnso Lake, it appears that she had fallen down a steep slope. Searches by the police do not show her as reported missing. Louise Rick, newly promoted to the position of Commander of the Missing Persons Department is at a loss to explain who the woman is. To aid in the search she releases a photo of the woman to the media and when she does so; receives a call from an elderly woman. The woman identifies the missing woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in a state mental institution. The only problem being, Lismette has been dead for thirty years. She died as a young girl. More so, she had a twin sister who also was listed as dead at the same time. If Lisemette had not died thirty years ago and if the sister had not also, then where was the twin sister?

“…That’s where you’re mistaken,’ she said angrily. ‘Those two girls were not forgotten from the beginning. Their father was urged to forget them. He was told to stay away, and that was apparently the case with many of the children and adults who had no contact with their families. They were left to their own devices because they were different and were stowed away in a place where the only concern was how to make it easy to look after them. But you were the ones who were supposed to take an interest in them. Because they didn’t have anyone else…”

As Louise digs deeper into the past of Lisemette she begins to unearth the dark going ons of the mental institute and of the forests where Lisemette was found. There is a serial rapist in the forest, one that had been active for many years. In the institute, she finds that the death certificates generated for Lisemette and her sister were falsified and that the girls did not die all those years past. Then, if Lisemette had survived until recently, where was her sister?

Louise must dig through the lies and deception of a corrupted institute and the hidden crimes of a small town, all the while, coming closer to having to deal with her own past. Her own dark times.

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel is a well written and tense crime thriller that had me hooked right up until the end and unfortunately it was at the end that it lost me. The attack by the rapist on Louise just didn’t ring true. There is a search for the rapist in the forest and the two female policewomen are left alone at the place where the rapist keeps his victims? Leaving them vulnerable to attack? That just did not seem possible and was an unnecessary plot twist in an otherwise extremely well plotted novel. The abuse and neglect at the mental institute is well researched and the investigation by Louise is very well done. If not for the ending, I would definitely be rating this one much higher.

A good novel but one too many twists.

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