The Running Girl


By Sara Blaedel

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$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 2, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

#1 internationally bestselling author Sara Blaedel is back with a powerful and twist-filled new suspense novel featuring detective Louise Rick.

Louise gets a call from her son, Jonas. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: A school party has ended in terrifying chaos after a group of violent teenagers forced their way into the building in search of alcohol and valuables. Dashing to the scene, Louise discovers one of the students gravely injured–struck by a car while attempting to run for help. Now the girl’s distraught mother, pushed to her emotional breaking point, will do anything to make those who hurt her daughter pay.
So when someone targets the gang members with a vicious attack, the girl’s mother is the obvious suspect. But Louise can’t shake the feeling that the case might not be as cut-and-dried as it first appears. Someone is lying–but who?
Masterfully plumbing the darkest depths of human emotion in this propulsive new novel, Sara Blaedel again delivers an intense ride filled with unexpected turns that will have you on the edge of your seat…



The first blow lands on the homeless man’s cheekbone, just as the door to the basement slams shut behind them. They keep coming, the blows. They hammer down on him, incessantly. Neither daylight nor sound reaches in here where a group of youths has circled around their victim, but two glaring lightbulbs hanging down from the ceiling reveal that the tormenters are wearing masks. Like bank robbers; only their eyes show.

The terrified man holds his hands desperately in front of his face in a futile attempt to keep the punches away. He turns, trying feebly to defend himself with his thin forearms, until two of the masked assailants step forward on either side of him and twist his arms behind his back. Then, a boot strikes him in the pit of his stomach with a force that takes all the air out of him. He crumples over.

The masked faces blur together as the violence intensifies. No one reacts to the stillness that has crept invisibly into the shabby and unkempt man on the cellar floor. Only a weak moan comes from him as yet another boot rams into the back of his head. Otherwise, nothing.

The man is no longer conscious when one of the masked youths makes sure that his body is visible in the footage. A quick nod is made to the corner, where still another black-masked figure pulls out an iron pipe wrapped in tape and slowly moves closer. He positions himself beside the now lifeless victim.

Step-by-step, the masked attackers move forward in a tightening circle. At first their voices hum low, like an insistent chanting, but eventually the sound grows stronger and finally explodes into a rhythmical cry of celebration, as the iron strikes the man’s head and crushes his skull.

Blow after blow. Nobody counts. Their focus is poured into the intense battle cry that increases and approaches ecstasy, while the blood spreads across the cellar floor.

Nobody seems to notice that the angel of death has come and taken the soul of the destitute man with it.

As the film ends, a heavy silence falls on the five boys who sit completely still around the computer screen.

There are small beads of sweat on the upper lip of one; the knuckles of a second have turned white. A third shakes it off and stands up to grab a handful of beers from the boathouse’s well-stocked fridge.

Nobody says anything as the bottle caps pop off. But then, suddenly, they speak. All at the same time, excited and eager. The release rolls through them like an orgasm, and then gets washed down with strong beer.

Over the course of the evening, they remain drunk on violence, watching more “Faces of Death,” films which feature real people being killed, their murders recorded live. They’re saved as downloads on the computer in the primitive clubhouse. Tomorrow night there will be a private party in one of the sailing clubs farther down the harbor. A kid’s party. Thrilled with themselves, the boys clink their bottle necks together and toast.

Ah, finally, it’s the weekend.


I don’t respect people who give in to stress, or men who take maternity leave. There you have it! And I don’t give a shit what the HR people say about it. If you don’t have the interest or energy to do your job in my investigation group, then you’re out. There are lots of people who want in and know what it takes to do a job like ours.”

The late September sun showed that the windows in the Homicide Department at Copenhagen’s Police Headquarters were in serious need of a good washing. The dirt had put a dusty film over the glass, highlighting dead insects and bird splatterings.

Louise Rick closed her eyes for a moment, while Detective Superintendent Willumsen thundered on. Sooner or later he’d get to his favorite line.

“I think I’ve said it before.” Here it came. “When you work with me, it’s ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Up yours.’ I want clear responses. This place isn’t a rest home for pregnant nuns. There are gang wars in the city and shootings on the streets. And as you all know, late last night, the father of a family was shot in his home outside of Amager. There’s no end to our workload. The damned shootings suck up our resources. The police chief’s Task Force Group recruits people from all departments, and for the rest of us it’ll continue to mean hours of overtime. So, if you have problems on the home front or a hard time balancing family life with work life, then go look for a desk job! It’s sure as hell a decision one would expect grown adults to be capable of…”

Willumsen left the last part hanging, while he sighed deeply and wiped the side of his mouth.

In a way, Louise couldn’t have agreed more. No one could make those sorts of decisions for you but yourself. She looked at her coworkers. Toft seemed a bit tired, and it struck her that maybe he regretted receiving the offer to come back to Homicide. As the result of a reorganization, he’d been sent out to Bellahøj Station a year and a half ago, and given a position that was later eliminated again.

Michael Stig had pointedly tipped back his chair. His eyes were half shut, while he gazed out of the dirty window panes. He was obviously irritated over being made to attend the detective superintendent’s tongue lashing, when it wasn’t even aimed at any of the officers Willumsen had called together into his office that late Friday afternoon.

The fit of rage was aimed at Louise’s partner, Lars Jørgensen, who earlier in the day had handed in a sick notice, initially for a month’s time. According to the doctor, stress was the reason for the long period of absence. Those in the know understood that the real reason was Willumsen’s cruel behavior toward Lars Jørgensen, who needed fewer hours after his wife had moved out to her sister’s in Vangede, leaving him with the eight-year-old twins and a broken heart.

In the good month and a half since his wife had left her husband and children to find herself, Lars Jørgensen had made a virtue out of leaving on time so he was there when his kids came home from day care. He begged off from extra work on the weekends, and every single time Willumsen went after him.

The lead investigator had always been rude and arrogant. It was like he got a certain pleasure out of wiping the floor with people. Louise studied Willumsen. He was in his late fifties. His hair was still black, and he had sharp facial features. He was holding up well, but the tension had plowed two deep lines across his forehead, which made him look fierce. Her thoughts slipped back to Jørgensen.

A couple of days earlier, as she arrived back to the office after lunch, she’d found her partner sitting with his face hidden in his hands. At first, he tried to let on like it was nothing, as if she hadn’t just caught him at a vulnerable moment. But after a couple of minutes of awkward silence, he stood up and closed the door.

“I don’t give a damn that he keeps riding me,” he said when he was back in his chair. His eyes were sad, and he looked pale and tired. “But the way things are, how the hell do I know if things will ever be different? Maybe she’ll never come back. I can’t give a date for when everything’ll be wonderful again!”

Louise hadn’t answered him. There wasn’t much to say.

He gave her a blank look, and she could see that he was at least as frustrated over the situation as the superintendent was. Lars Jørgensen wasn’t normally the sort to shut down his computer at four o’clock to go pick up the kids and shop at Føtex. On the other hand, she also knew he’d never dream of giving up time with his kids. The idea of seeing the twins every other week wasn’t for him, so when his wife announced that she needed time alone without husband or children while she thought about her life, he’d taken on the extra responsibility himself.

“How about you, Rick?” Willumsen continued in the same tone, snatching her back from her thoughts. “Are you about to hand in your sick notice, too?”

Louise observed the lead investigator for a moment, weighing whether it was worth the trouble to answer him. Instead, she just shook her head. They’d already talked till they were blue in the face about the responsibility she’d taken on when she’d agreed to adopt a twelve-year-old foster son. Still, not once in all the months since Jonas Holm moved into her apartment had the detective superintendent gone after her anywhere close to the way he went after Lars Jørgensen. Maybe it was because the lead investigator himself was moved by the boy’s case. Jonas had become an orphan when his father was killed before his very eyes, shot in the back of the head on the family’s vacation property in Sweden. At any rate, Willumsen often asked after the boy with something approaching genuine concern.

“Could we maybe wrap this meeting up and move on?”

Toft pushed back his chair to capitalize on the silence that had fallen over the room.

“I need to take care of an interrogation before the weekend.”

Willumsen gave a quick nod, but called them back before they’d made it out to the hallway.

“There’s just Amager,” he said and looked around. “We need to question the suspect who’s being held after the shooting last night in the duplex apartment out on Dyvekes Allé. But some of these biker types have gotten so refined over time that they’re not happy with just a public defender. They have their own. Right now, he’s sitting and waiting for his lawyer to come back from a trial on Jutland. But she should be here around six o’clock.”

He looked at Louise.

“Rick, will you take it?”

She stood for a moment with her back to him before turning to the lead investigator.

“Hmmm…I’m sorry. Jonas is going to a party for one of his classmates tomorrow, and I have to go home and buy ingredients to make the meatballs. And I need to drop off some extra chairs for the party, so I’d better slip out now.”

She left without waiting for his response, but heard Michael Stig take on the late interrogation with the shooting suspect. On the way down the hall, her colleague caught up with her. For a moment, Louise thought maybe he was expecting her to say thanks, but instead he asked about Camilla Lind.

“Has she left?”

Louise nodded.

“We drove them to the airport this morning. They fly into Chicago first, then on to Seattle, where they’re staying until Wednesday. From there, they’re renting a car and driving down the West Coast.”

“How long will they be away?” he asked.

She still hadn’t gotten used to how Michael Stig, who’d never really been her cup of tea, had apparently developed a genuine interest in her closest friend.

It had started up in Sweden, at the Holm family’s vacation property, the day Jonas saw his father killed. Michael Stig and Louise had had Camilla in the car with them as they’d literally raced with death—but arrived too late. Afterward her colleague and her friend had kept in touch. He’d also visited her in the hospital.

Louise still had a hard time understanding how the case against two Eastern European sex traffickers could have had such a tragic end. The experience had left deep marks, and she was a long way from coming to terms with the violent conclusion that had caused Camilla to take a leave of absence from her job.

“For two months, so they’ll have plenty of time to drive down to San Diego,” she answered. “But you can e-mail or text her. She promised me she’d be checking. But they won’t be spending any time on Facebook.”

Michael Stig nodded. She started to leave, but he stood there.

“How’s she doing?” he asked.

Louise stood a while thinking it over before deciding on the honest version.

“She’s going through hell. Between us, I really don’t think it’s responsible of her to take Markus along on such a long trip. Psychologically, she’s still broken to bits, and so she’s pretty unbalanced. The way I see it, she seems to think it’ll help to run away. Because that’s exactly what she’s doing, even though she likes to call it quality time with her son. Camilla is turning her back on everything that happened, so she can escape a confrontation with anything or anyone who reminds her of it, because she’s still not up to it. I just don’t know if she’s strong enough to put a lid on it. It might have been better to spend the time and money on a good psychiatrist.”

Louise thought about all the money Camilla had borrowed from her father in order to go away for so long. Then she added, “She blames herself for everything that happened, and in truth she can’t live with herself…or her life, because of it.”

She noticed that her voice became a little ambiguous with that last sentence, and so she quickly changed the subject.

“What about the shooting victim from Amager? Will he make it?”

Michael Stig shrugged his shoulders.

“If not, you’ll definitely hear from Willumsen before Monday.”


Do you know how many are coming to the party?” Louise yelled to Jonas. She was trying to figure out whether six pounds of ground meat would be enough for the number of meatballs she had to make. It was a new world for her. Never before had she given any thought to sausage rolls, mini-pizzas, and other junk foods, so she had no idea how much a class of seventh graders would go through, considering there’d be other things on the buffet, too.

And it had been ridiculously bold of her to tell Signe’s mother she’d bring the meatballs, Louise thought irritably. It was a private going-away party for a girl who was changing schools, not a class get-together, and no one had asked her to bring anything.

“About twenty-five, I think,” Jonas answered. He had a hoarse voice that made him sound like he was on the verge of tonsillitis. In reality, he suffered from a condition that Louise eventually learned was called multiple papilloma larynx, where small nodules had developed on his vocal cords. Over time they’d disappear, but till then they gave his voice a characteristically rough and rusty tone. “It’s our class, and probably some others from the music school,” he added.

“What about adults?”

Louise walked over and stood in the door to what had once been her guest room, but was now turned into Jonas’s bedroom. He lay on the bed and read, his dark hair falling over his eyes. She could see that he had a hard time tearing himself from the book, but out of politeness he sat up and looked at her attentively.

“Just her mom, I think. Do you want me to go down and buy the meatball mix?”

Louise felt a prick and quickly shook her head. Politeness and uncertainty always lay just below the surface, as if he were a well-raised boy over for a visit. If he’d been her own son, he’d no doubt have remained lying on the bed with his nose in the book and only reluctantly have allowed himself to be disturbed. It was heart-wrenching how transparent his vulnerability was.

Jonas’s mother had died of a congenital blood disease when he was four, and at the age of eleven, he’d lost his father, too. There was no family, distant relatives, or other relations left when tragedy struck. He’d only known Louise for a brief time, but since he’d expressed his own desire to live with her, she had given the matter careful thought and decided that if she was the safest base he could find, then he was welcome to stay with her. At least until he got some distance from his traumatic experience. At that point, they’d have to find a more permanent solution. But for now, she was his substitute mother, and for as long as she was, she’d do her best to live up to the role.

“We’d better see about getting those chairs out,” she said and looked at her watch.

Jonas promptly snapped his book shut and got to his feet.

*  *  *

Louise had folded down the back seat of her old Saab 9000, and between the two of them they’d managed to cram eight folding chairs in the back, plus the two step stools she’d found in the loft. Once they made it out past Svanemøllen, she turned right down Strandvænget and parked in front of his classmate’s white garden gate. On the mailbox, it said “Fasting-Thomsen.”

“Signe wrote on Facebook that we’re going out sailing.”

Jonas smiled and looked out at Svanemølle Harbor.

“It’ll be awesome. Then afterward we’ll eat.”

The garden path smelled of late summer roses. Louise stopped for a moment, and Jonas ran ahead. Classical music from inside the house poured through the front door and reached them all the way out at the storm porch, where Jonas already had his finger on the doorbell.

It was Signe’s father who opened the door. He stood with his coat on but smiled and offered his hand, introducing himself as Ulrik. As they stepped into the entryway, he apologized for the loud music and called through the living room door for Signe to turn it down.

Louise had only met Signe and her mother, Britt, when Jonas had gone to their house once after school and needed to be picked up in the evening. But she knew that his classmate played the cello and was a talented musician—like her mother, incidentally, who was a pianist and had played chamber music for many years. But as Louise understood it, Britt Fasting-Thomsen had had to end her career when she suffered something that Jonas thought was called writer’s cramp. Now she taught at the Music Conservatory.

“Signe is still over the moon about getting in,” Ulrik said. “So now she and her mother have started relistening to everything in our classical music collection. And that’s not so few.”

He smiled and shook his head.

Less than a week earlier, Jonas had come home from school and told Louise that Signe had been accepted into Saint Anne’s School of Song and Music. She’d taken the entrance exam for the first time when she was in the third grade, but hadn’t gotten in. Nor did it work out for her in subsequent years. But now, finally, they’d gotten lucky.

Louise had had difficulty hiding her smile when Jonas chattered on about how Signe’s parents were called by the school, which suddenly found itself with a vacancy and wanted to know if Signe was still interested.

“She’s crazy talented, and when she starts going there, she’s sure to wind up being famous and getting to play a whole bunch of concerts all over the place.”

He’d looked earnestly at Louise, then told her about the going-away party.

“It’s on Saturday, so we can say good-bye to her before she starts at her new school. May I go?”

They’d been planning on driving out to the country that weekend, down to Louise’s parents’ in Hvalsø. But now she didn’t have the heart to insist on it. It was the day after that she offered to make the meatballs.

“Everything’s happened so fast this past week,” said Ulrik. He ran his hands through his dark hair, which had a touch of gray at the temples. There was something in his facial features that made Louise think of a younger and somewhat taller version of Robert De Niro.

“Unfortunately, I can’t be at the party tomorrow,” he said with annoyance. “I’m an investment consultant, and my firm’s strategy weekend starts tonight at Dragsholm Castle up in Odsherred.”

Jonas listened politely, but she could tell he was impatient to go inside and say hi to Signe. Ulrik went on about how, six months ago, he’d hired an investment strategist from Switzerland to come and give a motivational speech to the staff, so it was impossible to reschedule the seminar on such short notice.

“Those kind of people are booked solid.”

He shrugged his shoulders and nodded to the piles of tablecloths and stacks of dishware lying on the floor.

“But I’m skipping out on the welcome dinner, so we can get all that over to the sailing club. Britt thinks she can manage the rest—and if I know her, she can.”

He smiled and said that it was a stroke of luck that they’d been able to rent the sailing club’s party room so late.

“It’s just been completed, and they don’t even have tables or chairs. But they’re coming up with the tables and we’re bringing the chairs we need. I think it would have been easier to hold the party here, but Signe wouldn’t hear of it. She’s planning on everyone going sailing before the meal’s set out.”

“Is your wife taking care of the sailing, too?” Louise asked, remembering how slight Britt was.

“No, no!” he laughed and shook his head. “I’ve joined forces with a sailor we know. He keeps a big wooden boat in the harbor. Our sailboat is pretty big, but we can’t cram twenty-five children on board.”

The classical music continued playing loudly, and Jonas peeked impatiently into the living room.

“They’re probably out in the kitchen,” said Ulrik, and led the way. “They just must not have heard you come.”

Louise looked around as they were led through the dining room. It was spacious and light, with modern art on the walls, and a dining table long enough to seat ten people on each side. There were two or three more rooms that all looked out on the harbor. In one of them stood Britt’s beautiful grand piano, and behind it Louise saw Signe’s cello.

The kitchen was easily the size of Louise’s living room. At first glance, it didn’t look like much had been done to it over the years, except for an addition of an exclusive French stove with double ovens, which stood along one wall. The rest was kept in the original classical style of the 1920s with tall doors and glass cupboards. If you looked closely, though, you could tell that all the cupboards had been restored to look that way.

“Hi!” Signe shouted happily. When she gave Jonas a hug, her red curls fell over her face. Her green eyes shined. Louise got a quick hug, too, before the girl dashed off into the living room and turned down the music so they could talk without shouting.

“Should I unload the chairs here, or drive them up to the sailing club?” Louise asked.

Britt finished rinsing dough off her fingers and greeted her guests properly.

“No, you don’t need to bother with that,” Ulrik said, standing behind them. “I have to take all the other stuff there, then afterward I can come back for the chairs.”

“If you have to go there anyway, I might as well follow you. Then we won’t have to keep loading and unloading them.”

“Can I stay here while you’re gone?” asked Jonas.

Louise looked over at Britt, leaving it up to her.

“Absolutely,” she said.

“OK, great. I’ll come back and pick him up after we’ve unloaded the chairs.”

Signe pulled Jonas into her room so they could pick out CDs for the party.

“There won’t be all that much classical,” her mother said as they left. “That’s mostly for when she’s home and can get absorbed in it.”

A little blob of dough landed in Britt’s pageboy hair as she tucked some loose strands behind her ears. Now it sat there distracting Louise. Signe’s mother was short and slender, elegant without being too delicate, and when she talked about her daughter she exuded warmth.

“I hope she can settle in at the new school,” Britt said. “It’s a hard decision when you’re perfectly happy with your current school and all your friends. But the music environment at Saint Anne’s is on a whole different level from where she goes now. Out there, she’ll be trained in the fundamentals of musical structure and become a strong reader of music. And then there’s the chorus, which she’s looking forward to being part of.”

Louise nodded. Her knowledge of Saint Anne’s School for Song and Music was severely limited, just that the school was for children with exceptional musical talents. In fact, she hadn’t even realized that they had regular school classes on top of the music ones.

Britt walked over to the windowsill and blew out two pillar candles, so their wax wouldn’t drip on the expensive kitchen floor. She checked the bread in the oven and put the next batch of dough into a bowl to rise.

“I ordered sushi for tomorrow. The ones who aren’t into that kind of fare can have the meatballs you’re bringing. And I’m roasting chicken drumsticks. And then there’ll be bread. Do you think that covers it?”


  • "Crime-writer superstar Sara Blaedel's great skill is in weaving a heartbreaking social history into an edge-of-your-chair thriller while at the same time creating a detective who's as emotionally rich and real as a close friend."—
  • "One of the best I've come across."—Michael Connelly
  • "Sara Blaedel is a force to be reckoned with. She's a remarkable crime writer who time and again delivers a solid, engaging story that any reader in the world can enjoy."—Karin Slaughter
  • "Another suspenseful, skillfully wrought entry."—Booklist on The Killing Forest
  • "Engrossing...Blaedel nicely balances the twisted relationships of the cult members with the true friendships of Louise, Camilla, and their circle."—Publishers Weekly on The Killing Forest
  • "Blaedel delivers another thrilling novel...Twists and turns will have readers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens next."—RT Book Reviews on The Killing Forest
  • "For readers who gorge on captivating characters and chilling suspense, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is a tantalizing treat. Enjoy yourself, America."—Sandra Brown on The Forgotten Girls
  • "Sara Blædel is at the top of her game. Louise Rick is a character who will have readers coming back for more."—Camilla Läckberg
  • "Crackling with suspense, atmosphere, and drama, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is simply stellar crime fiction. I loved spending time with the tough, smart, and all-too-human heroine Louise Rick--and I can't wait to see her again."—Lisa Unger
  • "Will push you to the edge of your seat [then] knock you right off....A smashing success."—BookReporter on The Killing Forest
  • "This is a standout book that will only solidify the author's well-respected standing in crime fiction. Blaedel drops clues that will leave readers guessing right up to the reveal. Each new lead opens an array of possibilities, and putting the book down became a feat this reviewer was unable to achieve. Based on the history of treating the disabled, the story is both horrifying and all-to-real. Even the villains have nuanced and sympathetic motives."—RT Times on The Forgotten Girls - Top Pick **Nominated for a Reviewer's Choice Award**
  • "Gripping."—Washington Post on The Forgotten Girls
  • "Tautly suspenseful and sociologically fascinating."—BookPage on The Forgotten Girls
  • "Tightly knit."—Kirkus Reviews on The Forgotten Girls
  • "Chilling...[a] swiftly moving plot and engaging core characters."—Publishers Weekly on The Forgotten Girls
  • "Sara Blaedel's THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is an emotionally complex police-procedural thriller ...With a gripping premise, fast-paced narrative and well-developed characters, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is an incredible read."—

On Sale
Jan 2, 2018
Page Count
448 pages

Sara Blaedel

About the Author

Sara Blaedel is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in thirty-eight countries. In 2014 Sara was voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time. She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award. She lives in New York City.

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