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PEN 33 by Anders Roslund

PEN 33

by &

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68144-031-2
Publisher: Quercus

A serial killer convicted of unthinkable crimes against little girls escapes during a prison transfer and wastes no time targeting his next nursery school victim in this novel first published in Sweden in 2004.

For veteran Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens, an oddball with little control over his anger impulse, having the monstrous Bernt Lund on the loose only ramps up his temper. But it's the quieter rage of Fredrik Steffansson, the father of Lund's latest victim, 5-year-old Marie, that poses a much greater threat. Taking the law into his own hands, he is determined to stop Lund from victimizing more girls. Are his efforts to prevent certain killings morally, and legally, defensible? Or is he no better than a murderer in assuming the power to take another person's life? Known for the social consciousness they bring to their thrillers, Roslund and Hellström depict a world riddled by abuse. The divorced Fredrik was viciously beaten as a boy by his father, as was his older brother, Frans, who threw himself in front of a moving train. For better and worse, this is no standard thriller in which the cops pursue the evil villain and take him down. A key scene is tossed off in matter-of-fact fashion. Grens figures surprisingly little in the narrative. While the co-authors can be admired for the risks they take, there's a nagging sense that we're reading highlights from a larger, more penetrating novel—one that comes to terms with their very nearly unreadable descriptions of Lund's savage acts.

Roslund and Hellström (Three Minutes, 2017, etc.) chill the bone with their account of a monstrous pedophile but fail to put the pieces of this ambitious thriller together in a fully satisfying or rewarding way.