I read the first book - The Hypnotist - by the Swedish husband and wife team of Lars Kepler last year. (my review) I was quite intrigued with their recurring character Inspector Joona Linna, so I happily picked up their latest North American release - The Nightmare.
Two deaths, that at first glance appear to be accidental or suicides, draw the attention of Inspector Linna. Linna sees things differently from others. He has that little 'something extra' in the way he views crime scenes and evidence, often spotting clues or links that others miss. When he decides that the two scenes are linked, he puts himself on the case, against the wishes of his superiors and the leader of the investigation. Linna is never loud or pushy - he simply ignores much of what is said and continues on. And when he is proven right, how can they take him off the case?
And the case is a mystery - the killer is quick, silent, incredibly devious and frightening - he seems to know the victims' worst nightmares - and makes them come true. He's killing in order to obtain something - but what? Kepler has changed things up a bit with this second book. The mystery, tension and psychological thrills are all there, but some political plotting and social commentary is also worked into the mix. (I was quite stunned by some of the statistics listed in the book and had to go online to check them - and yes they're true. "Every single day thirty-nine million bullets are made. The nine largest exporters of weapons in the world are the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and China.") Interestingly, the flyleaf and promos for the book only make reference to the unusual murders, not the weapons plotline. I do wonder if this combination was a bit too ambitious - it seemed to get very, very busy. Either storyline on its own would have been good.
I think what I do like about Kepler's books is that I have no idea what to expect - I always feel a little off kilter. Joona Linna's thinking is non linear and his take on things is always refreshing. The Nightmare is populated by odd characters with strange penchants and proclivities that give an unsettled feel to the narrative. The scene with the television personality left me bewildered as to why it was included. The book is translated from the original Swedish by Laura A. Wideberg and I found the cadence of some of the prose added to the off kilter feeling.
But, did I like it? Yes. I am definitely a fan of Inspector Linna and will happily pick up the third book in the series - already released in Sweden. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Nightmare.
You can find Lars Kepler on Facebook.