At 528 pages this is a doorstopper of a novel and it needs to be. Just the sheer number of major characters requires such a length. There’s Sebastian Bergman, a drunken womanising forensic profiler; Edward Hinde, a brutal serial killer languishing in jail; Tokel Hoglund, the head of Riksmord, the national homicide squad. Under Hoglund there is Ursula Anderson, a married forensics expert he’s having an affair with; Vanja Lithner a cop who’s mother had an affair with Bergen, and who unbeknownst to her is actually her father, and Billy Rosen who feels he should have more responsibility. If all this sounds a bit soap opera, it’s because it is. Subplots proliferate; Bergen stalks Vanja when he finds out she’s his daughter, he drinks and sleeps around to drown out the guilt he feels after his wife and child died in a tsunami.
The main plot is no less hackneyed: A serial killer is committing murders that are reminiscent of those committed by Hinde, who of course is in prison? Is Hinde communicating with someone on the outside? Does he have an acolyte recreating his greatest hits? No prizes for guessing the answer. At points the main plot and the convoluted subplots intersect. Someone convinces Bergman to attend therapy. He meets a woman there and sleeps with her. Next days she becomes the serial killer’s next victim.
Despite its flaws it would be wrong to say that I didn’t enjoy this though. It’s written by two famous scriptwriters, Hjorf worked on the Wallander series while Rosenfeldt co-created The Bridge, and they pull off their tale with a healthy dose of panache. The story moves along at a brisk pace and the tension is strung out well. I also liked the fact that Stockholm is in the midst of a heat wave, a welcome reprieve from the freezing arctic conditions of much Scandi-crime. In conclusion I would say that this is an enjoyable read, though not exactly original.
I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars