SHE'S NEVER COMING BACK
Written by Hans Koppel
Review written by LJ Hurst
Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Released: 5th January 2012
Kidnapping seems to be booming in Scandinavia even while property prices mean that the kidnappers are giving up the distant farms on which pits and prisons can be built and making do with refurbishing their cellars. Fortunately for Swedish kidnappers, as with British property developers, there are Polish builders available, ready to do a good job for a low price, who do not need to be bribed to keep their silence when translation difficulties can be just as effective.
All you need once you have your prison is an opportunity and a taser. According to Hans Koppel, politeness will lead your victim into your getaway car. After that the world is your oyster, or at least your victim’s world will be little larger than the inside of an oyster and could be just as lightless.
Of course, you would have to be very sick, or have a very good motive, to make you want to do such a thing but your victim could have years to find out what they are and your victim just as long to accept their victimhood. We are, after all, talking of the country which gave us Stockholm Syndrome.
Do not imagine that everything bad has to happen in Stockholm just because this is a Swedish crime novel – in fact, bad things happen all over Sweden and the town in which she’s never coming back is Helsingborg, just about the third-most important town in Scania – the large southern region – after Ystad and Malmo, whose devasting crime waves have been well recorded already. It should only have been expected that ghastly crime should spread.
Unfortunately for Hans Koppel he is rather too late. He has chosen a pseudonym like Lars Keppler whose The Hypnotist appeared earlier this year, but worse, earlier this year we had Jussi Adler-Olsen’s IMercy, set just across The Sound in Denmark, which set a standard so high that it would be difficult to beat and Koppel does not reach that level. Too much of She's Never Coming Back repeats the tropes of earlier women-in-peril stories. In parallel with the protagonist’s imprisonment is the story of a journalist’s struggles as he realises that he might have come across something news worthy and then his difficulties with the crass and uncaring police as he attempts to prevent things becoming worse. That has been used before as well, but has, ever since Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s Martin Beck stories, always managed to redeem a work, as it does here, driving it on with dark outrage, which Koppel completes with his own strand using and abusing sexual politics. So, She's Never Coming Back , not the best, not the first, but not to be written off either.