Having upped the ante with the previous novel in the Harry Hole series, the author goes for broke here.
Arguably the most densely packed and ambitiously plotted novel in a series that has been getting darker with each volume, the tenth novel featuring Harry Hole is a companion sequel to its predecessor (Phantom, 2012). That book had left the former Oslo detective no longer a member of the police force and perhaps no longer alive. The publication of a new Hole novel removes the “spoiler alert,” though for the first third of the novel, Harry exists more as a memory or an inspiration than as a character. The audacity of the author's vision here is that Hole is but one of a number of characters who might be living, might be dead, might even be some sort of ghostly spirits. There’s a religious dimension to the plot twists of death and rebirth, of man playing god, both the redeemer and the avenger. The basic plot, not that there’s anything basic about it, is that a series of gruesome crimes have remained unsolved for years, though DNA testing offers new possibilities. The police who investigated the original crimes and failed to solve them are lured back to the murder scenes, on the anniversaries of the murders, and are then themselves killed in an equally gruesome manner. Is the killer the same as the first, covering his tracks? Or is he “an apostle of righteousness,” an agent of justice, insisting that those who failed to solve the crimes must pay for them? Is it even possible that the one stalking police is himself a member of the force, revolted at the corruption that those who read the previous novel know now extends to the top? Or is he part of that corruption? Casualties spawn new theories, as those thought dead turn out to be alive (and vice versa), and the complexities suggest that “the human brain is a four-dimensional labyrinth. Everyone’s been there; no one knows the way.”
A surprise ending promises a fresh start for a series that had appeared to end with its previous novel.