Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg's third novel, "The Stone Cutter," once again features rural police detective Patrik Hedstrom, this time on the trail of a child killer. The mystery is who in the small resort town of Fjällbacka on Sweden's southwest coast would wish to kill a little girl and then toss her body into the sea. To make this horrendous crime even harder to investigate, Hedstrom and his partner, Erica, had known the girl. From the beginning of the novel, it is clear that the answer lies hidden beneath decades of secrets. They slowly are revealed as the story jumps between the present-day police investigation and a mysterious, decades-old tale of a woman whose deep resentments contribute to a disturbing end.
DAVID SHAFFER, business reporter
Edna Buchanan's novels have been reliably good reads for mystery fans, but her latest book is only half a good read. In this historical novel, Buchanan tells the story of real-life outlaw John Ashley and his lover, Laura, legends from Florida's earliest days. John is framed for a murder he didn't commit and ends up on the run for 13 years, staying only a step ahead of a vengeful sheriff. In a parallel story, Buchanan imagines the couple's modern day descendants, also named John and Laura. The present-day John is a police officer framed for a murder he didn't commit. He inexplicably falls in crazy love with a model named Laura when they first meet. They are drawn together as if by fate and -- you guessed it -- end up on the run from vengeful law officers. The two stories are intertwined throughout the book. The historical sections are suspenseful and taut; the rest of the book feels contrived. In the preface, Buchanan says this is the book she "yearned to write for half my life." She is fascinated by the story of the real John Ashley and wanted to explore how he and Laura would have fared in today's Miami. Frankly, the modern part doesn't work. The story of the real outlaws is fascinating enough on its own, and she would have done better to stick with the facts.
JUDY ROMANOWICH SMITH, News designer