Fossum gives Inspector Konrad Sejer (Eva’s Eye, 2013, etc.) a sabbatical so she can plumb the depths of a sociopathic nurse without a corrective moral counterpart.
Riktor has always known he’s different from everyone else. He can see in the dark. He’s given to bursts of irrational rage. And he doesn’t really care about people, not at all. Naturally, he’s taken a job as a geriatric nurse at the Løkka Nursing Home so he can make a difference in the lives of dying patients—for instance, by whispering invective to them, poking them in the eyes or switching their medications. When he’s left to watch a crippled child for a few moments, he effortlessly finds a way to torment her, and when he sees a cross-country skier plunge beneath the surface of an icy lake, he makes no move to help. It’s only a matter of time before Riktor graduates to murder, and once he does, the police are bound to find their way to his door. But the murder for which he’s arrested isn’t the one he committed. Indignant, he protests his innocence to Randers, the arresting officer, and Philip de Reuter, his court-appointed attorney. Wait till the trial, they both assure him. And as he waits, an improbable change steals over him. He’s unaccountably drawn to Margareth, the prison cook, and begins a new relationship with Ebba Neumann, the retired accountant whose endless crocheting always seemed the limit of her engagement with the world. By the time the trial finally arrives, he’s eager to tell his story. Fans of Fossum’s dark fiction will know better than to share his optimism.
Despite a conclusion as unsatisfying as it is inevitable, a chilling portrait of a dead-eyed devil whose self-excusing mantra is “If I only had a woman!”