Book Review: The Cold Song (Out of Tune)


Do you ever want a short review? An awful bitch and her self-involved husband move to a house owned by her mentally deficient, cruel mother and hire a nanny who dies because really, no one can stop being selfish and pathological long enough to give a flying fuck about her. They emotionally damage their daughter in the process, WHAT A SHOCK.

Okay, okay.

In general, the cold European countries have been turning out some really good reading over the past few years. In particular within the police procedural and crime genres, new releases are eagerly anticipated and Americans seem over-the-moon with the crisp writing style and exotic (for us) settings. Thus, The Cold Song sounded good.

The crux of the plot is the death of a nanny, and supposedly “everyone who had any connection with her feels implicated in her tragedy and haunted by what they could have done to prevent it” Apparently because they have some sort of existential crisis about what constitutes responsibility. Unfortunately, this is not a complex, layered examination of perception and narrative at all. It’s a story about a really narcissistic and awful woman, Siri, who is disinterested in parenting (fine, read no judgment of female roles into that) and her dissociative husband Jon (a writer who isn’t writing) who also isn’t interested in parenting (and who also lacks the social morality not to leer at the nanny but can’t summon the energy to do much more) who hire a nice local girl, Milla, to care for the children. Except, Siri hates this lovely young woman from the moment she is on board, and is psychologically abusive the entire time the poor kid is working for them. Jon, busy remembering extra marital affairs, pays no attention to Milla beyond the minimum, and never stands up to his wife.

So we have this unlikable family that is mean to this girl they’ve hired to care for their kids, and then the girl disappears, and everyone is so selfish that they are unwilling to offer up small bits of information that might help the girl’s parents put it together, until finally her body is found and then, everyone reinvents their narrative and is on their way. Except for their poor daughter, who saw something happen, but didn’t have a single person in her life that was trustworthy enough to share it with, so she is just the other sacrificial lamb in the story. And they are all off the hook because of the introduction of a character that up until the girl disappears is not in the story.  A vastly unsatisfied 1 star.



  1. Patricia Gonzalez · September 9, 2016

    I’ve been reading your blog and enjoy the text and pictures and book reviews. I read the first few sentences of this review and noticed the author’s name. She’s the daughter of Liv Ullmann, one of Ingmar Bergman’s stock players. She was big in the 70’s here in the states and wrote a couple of memoirs. Her daughter is mentioned throughout the books. And that is all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Gonzalez · September 9, 2016

    Oh and Ingmar Bergman is her dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • artfulblasphemer · September 10, 2016

      So, do you think that there is autobiographical aspects of the book, or that she got a pass to write a sub-par book due to her family connections?


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