You know you’ve arrived in the empyrean of Nordic noir when a multigenerational crimefest first translated into English in 2011 gets “a thrilling new translation” only seven years later.
Incredible but true: Whoever stabbed high school science teacher Anders Ek to death and began to dismember his body then turned to his wife and daughter and slaughtered them as well. The only survivors were Evelyn Ek, who was off at the university studying political science, and her teenage brother, Josef, who’s clinging to life after his own savage attack. Convinced that “someone wanted to wipe out an entire family, and probably thinks he’s succeeded,” Detective Joona Linna, of the National Crime Police, can think of nothing but finding and protecting Evelyn from the killer. To that end, he’s willing to take extreme measures. Unable to question the comatose Josef about his memories of the carnage, he asks trauma specialist Dr. Erik Maria Bark to put Josef into a hypnotic trance that will relax him enough to respond to a few questions. Although Erik hasn’t hypnotized anyone for 10 years, he eventually yields to Joona’s pressure, and all hell breaks loose, beginning with the fact that Josef’s testimony seems to implicate no one more damningly than himself. The fallout gives Erik as compelling a motive as Joona (The Sandman, 2018, etc.) for getting to the bottom of the mystery even as it cuts the ground out from under his feet, and a long, jagged flashback to the last time Erik hypnotized anyone hints that the current murder spree is only the tip of a very frigid iceberg.
The husband-and-wife team writing as Kepler piles on the atmosphere, shocks, and details that are just as unsparing psychologically as they are physically. The result is some memorably over-the-top plotting and a guarantee of sleepless nights that will only begin with the night you stay up reading.