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


Canada & North America: Saint-Jean Éditeur (French)
Denmark: People’s
Estonia: Eesti Raamat
Finland: Gummerus
Germany: Blanvalet
Latvia: Latvijas Mediji
Norway: Bonnier Norsk Forlag
Sweden: Norstedts


“Detective Inspector Kristoffer Bark and his colleagues work with a case full of complications that revolve around the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s assessments, a current topic. It is an unusually elegant plot, and Anna Jansson is a talented writer. ”
/Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter / Swe

“Oh, I wonder if this is not one of Anna Jansson’s best books! It touches me so much. […] As always, Anna [Jansson] is committed, with the ability to weave together a sustainable plot. […] there is a warm and loving undertone in the story, which lifts it further. I will carry it with me for a long time.”
/boksann / Swe

Puppet on a String is a well-composed crime novel with a good tempo. […] One of Anna Jansson’s strengths as a writer is how she weaves in facts in an interesting way, often linked to some contemporary phenomenon, and it is always with a lot of research behind. […] Puppet on a String is nicely constructed […]I think Anna Jansson masters it well. I like the Kristoffer Bark series and this is the best so far. Hopefully the next book is not that far away! Rating: 4/5”
/Lottensbokblogg / Swe

“I think this is the best book so far in the Kristoffer Bark series. It contains so much more than just a crime story. […] Anna Jansson is a master at mixing crime with historical facts and at the same time creating characters who feel realistic and who struggle with everyday problems.”
/laslustan / Swe

“In my opinion, this part which is number three in the series about Kristoffer Bark, is by far the best so far. Anna Jansson has once again managed to keep the readers excited until the end. The plot builds up gradually and the drama and suspense escalate right through the story. A well-written and well-composed structure and the way that Anna [Jansson] connects present with the past is very good. The worn-out term page turner can really be embraced in this book that delivers excitement, intrigues, and psychopathic twists. Rating: 5/5”
/Bokprataren / Swe

“Oh what I like the Kristoffer Bark series and this is clearly the best in the series so far in my opinion! […] Anna Jansson writes incredibly well and descriptive! Rating: 5/5”
/helenasdeckartips / Swe

“Anna Jansson weaves very nicely together past with the present. There is a sad love story at the bottom that is portrayed beautifully, but it also shows how authorities can abuse their power. It is well written and well composed, a page turner!”
/boknord_i_nord / Swe

“The best in the [Kristoffer Bark] series. The present and the past are well woven together, and it is very exciting. […] Recommended. Rating: 4 + / 5”
/Fantasiochverklighet / Swe

“Entertainment and excitement for the moment but also a story that affects you and stays, for a long time.”
/bok_stavligt / Swe

“What a book! It´s not only a crime story but also a part of Sweden history and how the ‘weak’ could be treated. […] It is a very exciting story and in a brilliant way all threads are woven together, that makes me want to keep reading. Anna [Jansson] is a fantastic author and the books about Kristoffer Bark are extremely good, well written and exciting.”
/maddys_boksida / Swe

”Highly recommends this book! I like how Anna Jansson writes, it’s suspense, atrocity, femininity during past generations. […] Read it!”
/susannlovesbooks / Swe

“This is the third book about the Detective Inspector Kristoffer Bark and I probably think it is the best. Anna [Jansson] mixes suspense and relationship drama with history […] Everything is woven together into a very exciting story. […] Anna is a skilled writer who captures me and creates characters you want to know more about, read more about. […] longing for the next one!”
/lollosbokhorna / Swe

“[…] Puppet on a String holds the same high class, and the excitement continues throughout the book. I could not figure out how everything was connected until the end. […] Well-written! ”
/bokluckan / Swe

Puppet on a String is Anna Jansson’s third book in the series about Detective Inspector Kristoffer Bark of the Örebro Police’s cold case group. In my opinion also the best book so far in the series. […] This is well written, exciting, captivating and really good. ”
/kulturladyn / Swe

Order reading material