Perceptive whodunnit a satisfying afternoon read

Writer Erica Falck is jolted out of her grief over the death of her parents by the apparent suicide of a long forgotten friend.

She is in the process of clearing up her parents' affairs when she is called to a house where her childhood friend lies dead in the bath.

Long buried memories of a close friendship that ended in painful rejection surface. She cannot understand why this friend, rich and beautiful, returned home to a small village to kill herself.

Falck sets out to find out about her friend's life and what made her aloof and cold towards the people who loved her.

She is joined in her quest by the local police chief, who wants to make a name for himself and earn promotion to the big city force.

Various suspects are brought in by the police only to be released for lack of evidence.

A postmortem reveals that the woman was murdered.

Lackberg's underlying theme is disorderly and dysfunctional families and the lasting effect such a home life has on the adults they become.

She delicately peers into the past to reveal abuse, indifferent parenting and ill-equipped adults who damage the psyche of their children.

In later life the grown-up children are obsessed with perfection and become abused wives. They all exhibit bitter sibling rivalries and are incapable of or unable to form lasting relationships.

Lackberg describes the small-time village life with humorous skill to explain the hidden secrets of the past.

A second murder lends urgency to the investigation and an unlikely murderer is exposed.

A nice afternoon read.