The Dark Heart recounts the presumed disappearance of Göran Lundblad in September 2012 and the investigation, both official and unofficial, that led to the discovery of his body and the truth that what most suspected in community of Norra Förlösa (on the eastern inland side of Sweden) that he had been murdered by or at the behest of a relative. The unlikely investigator was Therese Tang, head of the local unit of Missing People Sweden, a voluntary organization that conducts searches (grid and otherwise) for people who have disappeared without a trace.
Göran Lundblad, forestry man and Dollar Pipe manufacturer, and renter of housing, was not the type to go off and leave the wealth he (and his family) before him had accumulated. He was not also not the type to leave with commitments undone. He was a friendly sort of man once he got to talking but he was also a quasi-hermit and very particular in his ways. Particularly with money and with those he did not consider thrifty or those up to no good.
His daughter’s boyfriend, Martin Törnblad, son of a neighboring farmer, Åke Törnblad, was one of those as was the entire Törnblad family. And, it turns out that Göran was correct. His daughter, Sara Lundblad gave thousands of dollars to the Törnblads for use in their farming operations, to no avail. It was like pouring money down a hole never to be seen again. Eventually, after Göran’s body was found, Åke Törnblad went belly up.
Palmkvist’s account is taken from original sources that are listed in the back of the book and is written in the style of narrative journalism with some editorial license to change some of the names and make the information in the sources more readable. The account however remains true to what occurred during the early stages of the investigation when it was believed that it was a disappearance, then later when Missing People Sweden conducted its first grid search and the police began to believe based on irregularities in what Sara Lundblad was telling them versus what others who knew Göran had said plus other things that did not be add up (such as not accessing any of his accounts) or could not be corroborated in addition to Sara’s sister, Maria’s refusal to believe that their father had simply walked away and left everything.
The account goes into the early history of the Lundblad and Törnblad familes, Norra Förlösa and other significant locations, such as Kalmar, Therese Tang, and the origination and rise of Missing People Sweden, an organization that the police would turn to in other cases of puzzling disappearances because Missing People Sweden
does not have the restrictions that are imposed by law on the police and other official investigating agencies. Palmkvist also provides the reader with Swedish criminal law and procedure in a nutshell.
The Dark Heart is the story of Therese Tang’s refusal to give up on providing a family answers, even if one member of that family did not want those answers revealed and actively sought with the help of an accomplice to cover up the crime.
As noted above, the writing is in a journalistic style, think of an in-depth reporting over a series of articles, so it will not have the flow of fiction though it does have the tension and elements of a thriller though the pacing is at times meandering while at other times it is fast. Also, readers unfamiliar with Sweden would do good to have Google maps handy and there is a helpful listing of key people in the front of the book.
I obtained a translated copy free through Amazon Crossing’s International Week. Overall the translation did Palmkvist’s account justice though there seemed to be one or two oops but they do not take away from the readability. I would welcome other accounts written by Palmkvist if they become available through translation.