I haven’t read any Scandi Noir for a while, but the cold end of August seemed to demand it, so was thrilled to be sent this, sadly the last in the Joona Linna series which has apparently been taking Europe by storm (though I’ve never heard of it…).
Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of writing team Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. With several foreign prize nominations apiece, their brand of high-paced, nasty thriller would suit any Jack Reacher fans wanting to expand a bit into the Scandinavian Crime market.
Joona, our hero, is All Cop, No Trousers. He hurtles around Sweden faster than Harry Hole, with a lethal elbow that cracks many a skull and a penchant for looking deeply with his steel grey eyes. He also has a Sob Story (of course he does!) and some idiot bosses who don’t seem to realise that he is obviously right, at all times, without any evidence of this being needed. He is right because he is a Police, and has a Hunch, and surely that is enough?
On the other side is our baddie, convicted serial killer Jurek Walter. Serving a life sentence and kept in solitary confinement, he is still considered extremely dangerous. The hospital he is kept in, however, is a joke, run by a power-mad psychiatrist with a penchant for Fifty Shades of Grey style bondage sessions.
When one of Jurek’s supposed victims is however found wandering down the side of a railway track, thirteen years after he disappeared, Swedish National Security is forced to take drastic measures to find out the truth about Jurek and his crimes.
This book is very very silly, horribly dark in places, massively triggering and told more or less entirely in the present tense. Whilst this should have lent for speedy reading it took me almost two weeks to finish because I kept putting it down for long stretches; for the first half I didn’t really care, I didn’t like Joona and I wasn’t into the investigation. The second half is much much better, mostly because of the introduction of better characters and a more tightly woven structure.
If this were the first, rather than the last in the series, I might have given Lars Kepler another go, but as it is I think I’ll stick to Jo Nesbo and Jussi Adler-Olsen, who does this all much better.