In January 1967, the body of a woman floats to the surface of the Svartån river between the sheets of ice near Örebro Castle. The woman’s name is Mary Billbro and she was forcibly admitted to the Västra Mark mental hospital – an institution for ‘mentally deficient, asocial and sexually deviant women’.

More than 50 years later, her granddaughter Eva Kulitz has started work on her family history. She is firmly resolved to get to the bottom of events surrounding Mary’s death. But Eva faces death threats. She is a case officer at the Social Insurance Agency, and some of the people who have been denied sickness benefit commit suicide, which provokes anger and protests.

Detective Inspector Kristoffer Bark of the Örebro Police begins to investigate the threats Eva has been received. His digging takes him back to the middle of the twentieth century – to the terrible deeds once committed at the facility at Västra Mark, and to a women’s story spanning four generations.

In Puppet on a String, we once again meet Kristoffer Bark and his motley team at the Örebro Police, in a story about what the authorities took upon themselves to do to the weakest in society in different eras.

368 pages


Denmark: People’s Press
Norway: Strawberry
Sweden: Norstedts