HarperCollins, £12.99, 373pp. £11.69 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Gallows Bird, By Camilla Läckberg, trans. Steven T Murray

The fact that a reality television show features in Camilla Läckberg's mesmerising new novel will mean little to English readers of this best-selling Nordic writer, but her fellow Swedes might discern a little score-settling. Läckberg was the subject of much unwanted attention when the details of her divorce became headline news in Sweden. The most infinitesimal detail of her private life became a matter of public interest, so that when she began a relationship with a man also very well known in Sweden (a policeman who was the first winner of the Swedish version of the reality show Survivor), the scrutiny was ratcheted up to an even higher level. On a recent visit to Britain, she was bemused when it was pointed out to her that some crime fiction authors here would kill for that kind of attention.

The important thing about Läckberg, though, is the remarkable success her moody crime novels have enjoyed abroad - a success yet to be replicated in this country. Will The Gallows Bird deliver Britain to her?

In all her work, Läckberg examines her own sense of identity – both as a writer and as a Swede. She is a Scandinavian, but her literary template (and spiritual home) is the cloistered English town as evoked in Agatha Christie's St Mary Mead; large cosmopolitan cities have no appeal for her. The vagaries of human nature are her palette, in all their multiple aspects, along with a Manichean sense of good and evil.

The Gallows Bird is the fourth entry in Läckberg's Fjällbacka series. A car crash in Tanumshede initially appears to be a simple accident, but a second, similar accident has Detective Patrick Hedström wondering if the victims in both had been murdered. At the same time, Tanumshede is in something of a turmoil because of a reality TV show which is being produced locally.

The frenzied attention given to the five-minutes-of-fame stars has Hedström beginning to suspect that the killer is connected with the phenomenon. The detective's private life is distinctly unsettled, as he is tackling the problems of his forthcoming marriage to the writer Erica Falck (the couple are the central characters in Läckberg's sequence); problems sidelined when a chaotic alcohol-fuelled party ends with the death of an unpopular contestant on the TV show.

As with earlier books (ably translated by Steven T Murray), there is an adroit manipulation of elements: the unpredictable plotting, the striking evocation of life in this idyllic (but flawed) community and - perhaps most satisfying - the intriguing interaction between Patrick and Erica, both loving and fractious. It's Läckberg's particular skill to have created two of the most fully rounded characters in contemporary crime fiction, with a warmth that cuts through the Nordic chill.

Her publishers are hoping to finesse for Läckberg the success in the UK she enjoys on her native soil and in Germany, where her sales are prodigious. The Gallows Bird may be the book to pull off that particular coup, though addicts of reality TV may not be the target readership.

Arts and Entertainment
Above the hat of the toy gibbon, artist Mark Roscoe included a ‘ghost of a bird’ and a hidden message
art
Arts and Entertainment
Alien: Resurrection, Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder
film
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable