Title: The Gingerbread House
Author: Carin Gerhardsen
Series: Hammarby Series #1
Release Date: June 30, 2013
Source: Personal Copy
Nordic Crime’s succession in the United States undoubtedly owes something, if not everything, to the popularity of the Girl with Dragon Tattoo. This also is a problem. It almost seems as if every Nordic thriller has to be drawing from that damn series for some reason.
This book isn’t any different, and that’s its problem.
The writing in terms of style, structure and verve is great. Almost engrossing. There is even a refreshing character twist in the lead detective being a happy family member with a loving wife and kids. Then is even a nod to racism in Sweden (apparently, it becomes more like a lecture and you feel like you are witnessing a PC lecture about the Middle East).
Except, it really isn’t any different.
The idea of an abused student getting revenge isn’t anything really new, and the twist that comes towards the end is something that many readers will either feel as a sucker punch or a cop out. But even that isn’t the major problem I had with this book.
My problem was the victim gender ratio.
With the exception of the first victim, all victims in this book are woman. Furthermore, the crimes against them are described in greater detail and are far more sexual in the description. This includes the female police officer who is only police officer who does not seem to have stable relationship.
Honestly, all women as victims, even victims who do address and move beyond the crime in a mystery is rather trying especially when the majority of those who in the book, who have happy, normal lives are all men. It’s not the violence against woman shouldn’t be represented in mysteries. It should be and it is a sad facet of life. And yes, woman police officers are just as at risk as the rest. It’s getting to a point, however, that every time the woman is a victim, it is a sexual perverted attack which is described in great detail as well as the aftermath of said attack. Usually, these women also are connected to sex in some way, be it a natural sexually or their job. Why is that in fiction? I do not know the percentage of women who are killed in a sexual sadistic way. But books like this as well as shows like Criminal Minds, seem to imply that the minute a woman steps outside of the bathroom, she is at risk of rape and murder. While shows like Law and Order: SVU might also be jumbled in, it should be noted that such shows as SVU do tend to have a good ratio in terms of gender, and SVU deals with the aftermath of attacks as well as fighting against stigma attached to rape. Furthermore, SVU makes it a violent crime that is not voyeuristic.