By Camilla Läckberg, translated by Tiina Nunnelly. (Pegasus, 476 pages, $25.95.)
In "The Drowning," Swedish crime novelist Camilla Läckberg gives us another sweeping small-town Nordic thriller. The mystery begins with threatening letters to a first-time novelist. Then a friend of the writer turns up missing, possibly dead. Like Läckberg's earlier crime novels, the truth about these and other events is buried in the characters' past.
The unlikely combination of police detective Patrik Hedström and his can't-keep-from-interfering writer-wife Erica — now pregnant with twins —unearth the long-suppressed evils. It's a thick novel that should delight Läckberg's fans with a rich cast of characters and a surprise ending.
A shortcoming for those who have read her earlier novels is that Läckberg's truth-from-the-past formula is beginning to feel like … a formula.
Virginia Woolf: A Portrait
By Viviane Forrester. (Columbia University Press, 247 pages, $35.)
At first, I thought I was reading an autobiography by Virginia Woolf, rather than a biography about her. The sentence fragments and stream-of-consciousness could be right out of "Mrs. Dalloway."
Viviane Forrester, a French writer, essayist, novelist and literary critic, channels Woolf as she re-examines the life and literature of the British writer, essayist, novelist and literary critic: "Here she is, passionate, ever watchful for what is always escaping, although she manages to capture its transience; here she is demanding, a little weary, impatient."
Forrester, who died in 2013, was a protective biographer. She challenges the narrative that has shaped Woolf's image, particularly that told by her husband, Leonard, whose memoir describes a fragile, frigid woman, a mere step from the madness that would lead her to fill her pockets with stones and enter the River Ouse one day. Forrester's research included recently discovered documents as well as interviews with friends and family members conducted over years. The result describes a stronger, passionate woman, a brilliant writer beset by loss and betrayals by her closest family members — yet someone not above flirting with her sister's husband.
Just translated into English, this book has won one of France's best-known literary awards, the Prix Goncourt for biography. For Woolf fans, it is a provocative portrait, richly woven with Woolf's distinctive voice and Forrester's faithful echo.