The third appearance for Swedish cop Fabian Risk and his colleagues in Helsingborg’s crime squad (The Ninth Grave, 2017, etc.) presents them two very different crime waves, one that might have been ripped from the headlines, the other more baroque, fantastic, and transcendentally evil.
Astrid Tuvesson, the problem drinker who heads the squad, gets off to a bad start when her car is clipped by a BMW that takes off at high speed and her pursuit of it ends when it drives off a quay into the harbor below. Things get worse when pathologist Einar “Braids” Greide announces that Peter Brise, the celebrated video game designer pulled from the water, actually froze to death two months ago. Since plenty of people have seen Brise quite recently, that means something’s seriously wrong, and that something turns out to be a long-unsuspected case of identity theft on a grand scale. While the crime squad is turning over every stone looking for the man who carefully selects wealthy targets, imprisons them in chest freezers until they’re dead, impersonates them with a master’s improbable hand, and drains their assets, uniformed officer Dunja Hougaard, recently arrived from Copenhagen, runs into an unrelated and much more horrifyingly realistic series of crimes by a masked crew of thrill killers who beat and kick random street people to death just for fun. Since Kim Sleizner, Dunja’s abusive boss back in Copenhagen, continues to do everything he can to torpedo her investigation, she persuades mate Magnus Rawn to join her outside official regulations to catch the killers. But it’s the coldhearted virtuoso whose remorseless planning stands in such striking opposition to the thrill killers that will haunt your memory long after you’ve finished reading.
Hats off to Ahnhem for creating a villain more powerful than the franchise team charged with bringing him in.