Twelve years after the rape and murder of an 8-year-old schoolgirl, a new series of murders blossoms in her memory in Sigurdardóttir’s latest horrific police nightmare.
Since Iceland doesn’t imprison convicted criminals for life, Jón Jónsson is released after serving his time for having assaulted and smothered Vaka Orradóttir, who was in his house because she’d asked her classmate, Jónsson’s daughter, Sigrún, if she could use her home phone to call her father when he was late picking her up from school. Within a week, storm clouds are already converging over the demoted CID department manager Huldar from several directions. There’s the discovery of two severed hands in retired prosecutor Benedikt Toft’s hot tub. There’s a note discovered in a time capsule Vaka’s schoolmates buried 12 years ago: “in 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV, and I.” There’s a series of present-tense threats prosecutor Thorvaldur Svavarsson receives from firstname.lastname@example.org. And there’s the murder of Benedikt Toft—could he be the BT that menacing prediction specified?—in a municipal parking garage. Although Huldar’s been replaced as head of the CID and has precious little influence in the department anymore, he’s itching to work the case, and eventually he gets his wish, only to face the challenge of establishing that the case is indeed a case and not a cascade of unfortunate but unrelated events. Veterans of Sigurdardóttir’s peerlessly grim procedurals (The Legacy, 2018, etc.) will share the hero’s irrational conviction that all these dire portents are indeed related, and it’s not giving too much away to say that they’ll be proved shockingly correct.
More evidence of the author’s gift for establishing a web so dark and deep-laid that it hardly matters which particular spider wove it. You’re left agog at the detective’s concluding observation: “Sometimes violent instincts had to be given their head.”