Unwanted (Fredrika Bergman Series #1)

Unwanted (Fredrika Bergman Series #1)

3.9 15
by Kristina Ohlsson

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International crime’s newest publishing star Kristina Ohlsson makes her American debut with Unwanted, the first installment of the Frederika Bergman crime series and winner of Sweden’s prestigious Gold Pocket Book Award.

One mistake changes everything…

In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is


International crime’s newest publishing star Kristina Ohlsson makes her American debut with Unwanted, the first installment of the Frederika Bergman crime series and winner of Sweden’s prestigious Gold Pocket Book Award.

One mistake changes everything…

In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her distraught mother was left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew was alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But when the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the little girl had vanished. Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody fight. But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word “unwanted” scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team’s worst nightmare—the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Superior prose, plotting, and characterization lift this procedural set in Stockholm, the first in a series. When Sara Sebastiansson steps off a train to Gothenburg for a moment at an intermediate station, she leaves her six-year-old daughter, Lilian, asleep in a coach. A stranger’s request to help with a sick pet ensures that Sara fails to reboard in time. Despite the conductor keeping an eye on Lilian for most of the trip to the next stop, the little girl is nowhere to be found on arrival there. Lilian’s father, suspected of physically abusing her mother, is an obvious suspect, especially given conflicting stories about his whereabouts. Frederika Bergman, a police investigator who’s less than comfortable interacting with people, and her colleagues soon realize they’re dealing with a twisted monster whose motives are as obscure as his methods are horrific. Readers will look forward to spending more time in the company of the intriguing Bergman. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, the Salomonsson Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Expect Ohlsson to join Nesbo on most readers' can't-miss lists.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Superior prose, plotting, and characterization... readers will look forward to spending more time in the company of the intriguing Bergman.” —Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
Swedish federal investigator Frederika Bergman is an academic whose intellect assists her in formulating unique theories during her investigations. Unfortunately, her mostly male colleagues show contempt at her lack of previous police experience and push aside her findings and opinions. But before Frederika can quit and work in a profession more appropriate for her talent, a simple custodial interference case quickly turns into a serial kidnapping and murder spree. VERDICT This award-winning first volume in an acclaimed Swedish crime series spends a significant amount of time introducing and setting up Frederika's investigative team. While this makes for a slightly lengthy thriller, it does not take away from the compelling story line. Ohlsson's U.S. debut is a complicated novel that delves into every parent's nightmare. Fans of detective or thriller fiction will delight in discovering this excellent addition to the Scandinavian mystery genre. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/11.]—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Ohlsson enters the crowded field of Swedish procedurals with the tale of a man bent on exacting a terrible revenge on errant mothers through their innocent children. Even after Sara Sebastiansson left the Gothenburg-Stockholm train for a moment to make a phone call and got separated from her sleeping daughter Lilian, 6, when the train pulled away, reuniting the two of them should have been routine. But a combination of bad luck, distractions and the uncannily precise planning of a determined kidnapper left Lilian's seat empty and scores of potential witnesses unable to say what had become of her. The answer arrives in two horrible installments: first a parcel containing the little girl's clothing and hair, then the discovery of her naked body in a hospital parking lot, the word "UNWANTED" written on her forehead. DCI Alex Recht's special investigation team focuses on Sara's estranged husband Gabriel, whose history of abuse, sudden disappearance and trail of lies mark him as well worth their attention. Inevitably, however, another child is abducted and killed, and the cops realize that they need to look outside Sara's circle for suspects. The case, maintains Alex, is "a wild animal that had paralyzed his whole team," and it's easy to see why: Nothing and no one runs true to form, from Gabriel's monstrous mother to philandering DI Peder Rydh and prickly team newcomer Fredrika Bergman. Connoisseurs of serial mayhem will solve the mystery long before Alex and his team, but Ohlsson's knack for building surprises into the most routine scenes and people suggests that there'll be plenty of material for the promised series.

Product Details

Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date:
Fredrika Bergman Series , #1
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.25(d)

Read an Excerpt

Whenever he let his thoughts wander, for some reason they always came back sooner or later to the case notes. It usually happened at night.

He lay quite still in his bed and looked up at the ceiling, where a fly was moving. He had never been much good at darkness and rest. It was as though his defenses were stripped away the moment the sun disappeared and the fatigue and darkness crept up to enfold him. Defenselessness was something at odds with his entire nature. A large part of his life had revolved around being on his guard, being prepared. Readiness demanded wakefulness.

He registered that it had been a long time since he had been woken at night by his own tears. It had been a long time since the memories hurt him and weakened him. In that respect, he had come far in his attempt to find peace.

And yet.

If he shut his eyes really hard, and if it was totally, totally quiet all round him, he could see her in front of him. Her bulky form detached itself from the dark shadows and came lumbering toward him. Slowly, slowly, the way she always moved.

The memory of her scent still made him feel sick. Dark, sweet, and full of dust. Impossible to breathe in. Like the smell of the books in her library. And he could hear her voice:

You stubborn good-for-nothing,” it hissed. “You worthless abortion.”

And then she grabbed him and gripped him hard.

The words were always followed by the pain and the punishment. By the fire. The memory of the fire was still there on parts of his body. He liked running his finger over the scar tissue and knowing that he had survived.

When he was really small, he had assumed the punishment was because he always did everything wrong. So he tried, following his child’s logic, to do everything right. Desperately, tenaciously. And yet: it all turned out wrong.

When he was older he understood better. There simply was nothing that was right. It wasn’t just his actions that were wrong and needed to be punished, it was his whole essence and existence. He was being punished for existing. If he had not existed, She would never have died.

“You never should have been born!” she howled into his face. “You’re evil, evil, evil!”

The crying that followed, that came after the fire, must always be silent. Silent, silent, so she wouldn’t hear. Because if she did, she would come back. Always.

He remembered that the accusation had caused him intense anxiety for a long time. How could he ever come to terms with what she said he was guilty of? How could he ever pay for what he had done, compensate for his sin?

The case notes.

He went to the hospital where She had been a patient and read Her notes. Mostly to get some conception of the full extent of his crime. He was of age by then. Of age but eternally in debt as a result of his evil deeds. What he found in the notes, however, turned him, entirely unexpectedly, from a debtor into a free man. With this liberation came strength and recovery. He found a new life, and new and important questions to answer. The question was no longer how he could compensate someone else. The question then was how he was to be compensated.

Lying there in the dark, he gave a slight smile and glanced sideways at the new doll he had chosen. He thought—he could never be sure—but he thought this one would last longer than the others. She didn’t need to deal with her past, as he himself had done. All she needed was a firm hand, his firm hand.

And lots and lots of love. His very special, guiding love.

He caressed her back cautiously. By mistake, or perhaps because he genuinely could not see the injuries he had inflicted on her, his hand passed right over one of the freshest bruises. It adorned, like a dark little lake, one of her shoulder blades. She woke with a start and turned toward him. Her eyes were glassy with fear; she never knew what awaited her when darkness fell.

“It’s time, doll.”

Her delicate face broke into a pretty, drowsy smile.

“We’ll start tomorrow,” he whispered.

Then he rolled onto his back again and fixed his gaze on the fly once more. Awake and ready. Without rest.

© 2009 Kristina Ohlsson

Meet the Author

Kristina Ohlsson is a counterterrorism officer in Europe and has worked as a security police analyst for the National Swedish Police Board. Originally from southern Sweden, she now lives in Vienna, Austria.

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Unwanted 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anna_Sophie More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. The plot is strong and the character development is very good without boring you to death. I think the author does a masterful job of setting the reader up to follow these characters in subsequent novels: you will understand their tensions, backgrounds, stressors, strengths, weaknesses, and desire to solve the crimes. The only reason I am not giving it 5 out of 5 is because the ending is weak and wraps up way too neatly and quickly and I was disappointed. I am hopeful the author draw it out better the next time because she did a very good job with suspense up to that point. Definitely recommended.
1108LAD More than 1 year ago
It's great when you discover a new author! Ohlsson creates intricate plot twists as well as realistic characters who think and behave authentically. The book read smoothly and quickly and I immediately purchased the next couple of titles in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book at all I did not like not ine of the main characters and it was hard getting through this one. I finished it because I had to see if the ending was as bad as the beginning and middle. The author was all over the place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of crime novels and was not disappointed when I stumbled across this author. Great plot and characters...have already purchased and read next two books in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasn't sure I would like this but once I started I didn't want to put it down. Will read her other books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not feel the book was as suspensful as I would have liked to see. The author did a good job describing the police charachters, but didnt touch the killer so much. There wasnt enough suspense with the children being taken and leading up to their deaths, they were caught and then killed. I would have like to have seen a little more focus on the killers personality.
Kbeck More than 1 year ago
The plot is well done with twist and turns that kept me up reading late into the night. The characters are ones I am going to look forward to meeting again in future stories.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good writing, interesting plot, but the answer was quite obvious and the characters not getting it until much later was exhausting. There were a few twists that felt a bit as if they were thrown in last minute and not really important to the story or seamlessly integrated.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are one of those people who get scared in the night from horrer or suspence then not recomended unless you are trying ro break your fear other wise recomened!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked in with a parot flying behind her and when she stoped the parot changed in to Mastif that sat beside her.