I've read other books by this author and found her witty, and good with a mystery plot. Her character names in those books were hilarious so I was invariably left laughing as I turned the last page. This book is quite different. For one thing it is a serious book about controversial topics, but as usual her characters are so real you can't help getting caught up in the story and feeling sad for them.
First we meet Anna, an unemployed young woman who isn't having any luck finding a job. She lives with Lars and we immediately realize that she isn't really happy with him despite his occasional attempts at being a considerate and thoughtful boyfriend. She is uneasy in his company. Why? He wants to get married; she doesn't.
Her father is ill which upsets her terribly but also gives her an excuse to go stay with her parents frequently. However, then she misses her best friend and neighbor, Karin. Karin is always perfectly made up and dresses beautifully. She is also a good listener and makes Anna feel like she can talk about anything in the world. The trouble is that Karin is in financial trouble so she is taking jobs that Anna worries about. She also has strange men in her apartment often. One day Anna cleans brown stains off of the stairwell and landing. It looks like maybe coffee dripped out of the garbage bag as Karin took it down.
Anna has become curious about her father's family. He never talks about her grandmother and is obviously uncomfortable talking about his family at all. Finally her mother gives her a diary her grandmother kept, and as her father dies Anna is already deep into investigating her family's story.
So, there are two mysteries here and both are very satisfying as there are plenty of red herrings to lead the reader astray. I loved the way Jakobsen told this tale, partly because I cared about Anna and worried about what she might find out. There are surprises at the end which I should have seen coming but didn't. I was too wrapped up in Anna's search for the truth to see the dangers ahead.