Ulrika Rolfsdotter (1977) grew up in Bjärtrå in the area of Ådalen, Sweden. She is a social worker and cognitive behavioral therapist by profession and has been working with abused women and addicts for many years.
Rolfsdotter has been writing stories since childhood and her debut novel Heart of Prey is the first book in a planned series about social worker Annie Ljung, set in and around the area of Ådalen. Heart of Prey takes its inspiration from a local murder from the 1800s and each book in the series will be inspired by a historical criminal case from the area.
Ulrika Rolfsdotter lives in Gävle with her two children. Heart of Prey was published by Bazar on April 7th, 2021.
“Or one can do as Ulrika Rolfsdotter and with small nuances create a character that adds something new but still remains with both feet firmly planted in the plausible. Like the choice of letting a social worker stumble into murder investigations. […] The folklore gives color to the Annie Ljung crime novels, but it remains just that – a splash of color – and the supernatural never threatens to overshadow credibility. […] I usually dislike when the crime genre becomes too exploitative, but Ulrika’s own background as a social worker keeps her at a respectful distance from both the goriest of crime scenes as well as the traumas of her characters. The crime genre may derail into a contest of cheap thrills, but it is not a race Ulrika Rolfsdotter participates in. In The Unburied, Annie Ljung evolves as a character and the reader gains a greater understanding for her. To keep the murder mysteries from being too detached it is wise to give the police Sara Emilsson some room and the duo’s cooperation will probably get even closes as the series progress. […] What most urges me to return to Ulrika Rolfsdotter’s world of crime in the second novel is not Annie, however, but the milieu in Ådalen which she so beautifully brings to life.”
Gefle Dagblad (SE)
“A captivating and enlightening narrative with deft storytelling that highlights the marginalization of youth.”
“When Annie Ljung’s mother who has dementia is found outside in the cold in a confused state, Annie is forced to return to her hometown. Something she never planned to do, after what happened there once. For the protagonist, this is the beginning of an upsetting confrontation with ghosts from her past and an old darkness in the area that traces far back in time. Heart of Prey is an incredibly strong debut that brings fresh blood to the abundance of Swedish crime novels. The book is balanced in tone and style and the characters and milieus are beautifully portrayed. It is an urgent and moving topic, and a suspenseful and captivating plot with elements of folklore and mystery that calls the mind to Kerstin Ekman’s Blackwater (1993). It leaves you begging for more of Annie Ljung.”
BTJ, 4/5 (SE)
“Rolfsdotter really knows plot and how to build suspense. Through the disappearance of 17-year-old Saga, we get to know the people around both her and Annie, while we must wait to learn the answer to what really happened to Annie. The storytelling is propulsive, told through short chapters, and at the same time the milieus are given ample room to really set the atmosphere. […] I can’t wait to return to Annie and this landscape with all of its dramatic history and fantastic nature.”
“Ulrika Rolfsdotter’s debut is a welcome surprise. There’s a great appetite for crime novels and the result is a slew of subpar publications but this debut writer really has great promise. Indeed, she may well become this year’s breakout suspense star.”
Gefle Dagblad (SE)
“In a small-town where everyone knows each other, ghosts from the past chase through this thrilling and urgent debut novel.”
Aftonbladet Söndag (SE)
“Ulrika Rolfsdotter writes a vivid portrayal of a depopulation area where the last small country store is about to go bankrupt. […] An unusually strong debut.”
Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“Many awards ought to end up with this debut writer; this is incredibly good! […] With restrained storytelling through two short chapters, [Rolfsdotter] quickly turns two completely new characters to human beings full of life. Annie and Sven are people who carry most of the narrative perspective in this novel. After only a few pages, we are well acquainted with them, as with the core of the story. It is tremendously skilfully done! […] What I love the most are cleverly composed symphonies where we at all times move between calm and intense passages. This text reminds me of Bolero by Ravel, that is a constant movement from calmness towards an ever increasing intensity. And I like Bolero, a lot. […] Multiple endings is nothing new, but it is rarely as well done as here. Right when you think you know what’s happened, another question arises that begs for answers. The plot thickens, Bolero’s kettledrums thunders even more vehemently. To me it goes without saying that this book will be on the shortlist for the award for Best Crime Debut this year.”
“There’s no doubt about what kind of area we’re in: ‘Pine forests and dark water, gravel tracks and abandoned sawmills. Shy faces behind closed curtains. Deregistered cars. Bottomless rivers. Never-ending forests to get lost in’. But it is also ‘treacherously beautiful’. And it’s not least the familiarity of the small-town, where everyone knows each other, and are aware of other people’s doings. For good and bad. Behind the intimate facade lies implied hierarchies, irreconcilable conflicts, dark secrets, and unforgiven injustices. […] At the heart of this suspense novel is the theme of how violence against women is silenced in society, and how the victims carry the blame. A topic that is uncannily current right now, and has been ever since the days of the witch trials. When Anne Ljung is forced to face her inner demons she does so in a tale packed with darkness, death, and tragical events. […] Rolfsdotter ties it all together brilliantly.”
Tidningen Ångermanland (SE)
“You can tell that Ulrika Rolfsdotter knows what she’s writing about. The milieus are so immaculately portrayed and you can really feel the northern melancholy and the beautiful landscape. This is a book with a plot that really stands out, because it is inspired by ancient folklore, witch trials, and a true crime from the 1800s. I love the language that with credibility portrays interesting characters in a rural area in our time with modern problems, but also people who bear the mark of history – both of their own upbringing, but also of the history of their surroundings, old legends and stories from the past. Sometimes, the true suspense lies in what you don’t know, what you can’t explain, but that exists nonetheless like an uneasiness. […] Don’t miss out on this thrilling rural novel called Heart of Prey. This is a captivating and well-written debut that brings the present together with the past in an authentic and fascinating blend.”
P4 Västernorrland (SE)