Sometimes I wonder if am on track with my readings cause I didn’t read anything last weekend. I managed to finish this last week in two sittings. I was really interested in this author duo mostly because I do like nordic noir and am just getting the hang of it. There is something about their atmosphere that spells doom and coziness at the same time, I mean just look at its cover image. Its creepy AF. Yet it pulls you in.
Coming to the review. Last year I had read The Stalker by Lars Kepler (Joona Linna#5) and I was impressed with the characterisation and that feeling of terror they had aptly captured. I had decided then that I would catch up with the first one in the series and here am.
The story begins with multiple murders reported in Stockholm. The chief detective Joona Linna of the National Crime Department decides to handle the case even though its a local murder. The first ten chapters flows by. Despite many inconsistencies, the pace itself makes you want to read the book without interruptions.
We are introduced to Eric Maria Bark in the introduction itself. An ex-hypnotist cum doctor specialising in trauma aftermath. He is requested by Joona to hypnotise a fifteen year old boy – Josef, who is the sole witness and survivor of a massacre that took his father, mother and younger sister’s lives. The only other survivor is his older sister, Evelyn far removed from all this but possibly still in danger. Since Josef has gone into a comma, the “only” way to find out the killer was to hypnotise him. After much persuasion Eric agrees to do so only to open a pandora’s box, so to say.
In between this there are many subplots that are strung together. Namely Eric’s relationship with his wife, Simone and their ill son, Benjamin. When we reach half way through the plot the story shifts completely to a new track. Benjamin is kidnapped and its suspected to be the same killer as the one who butchered Josef and Evelyn’s family but Eric goes into a part of his past that shows us why he stopped hypnosis as a form of therapy ten years ago.
In the beginning, it was all very exciting and fast paced, but mid way through it loses steam and tries to hold on to thin straw. I had several theories in my mind none of which was applicable. A sub plot revolving around Eric’s patients and his cheating on Simone. So many things meshed together that made it irritating. At one point its obvious Eric and his families lives are in danger, despite that nobody goes to his house to check or provide protection and instead complained about his phone been not reachable which is totally absurd because Eric’s reason to not attend his calls was that it could be a pesky journalist.
Maybe they all undermined the villain or maybe its just dumb writing. Simone as a character was silly. Her constant trust issues and doing stupid things at the wrong time was downright annoying. Basically the whole plot was stretched to its highest possible limit. At one point nobody is informing the others what’s happening or what their next course of action is, just bad communication on the whole. Police officers too were behaving out of character, and by three fourth of the book, the main premise is not even mentioned and doesn’t even matter. It was like reading a different book altogether.
Maybe its cause of the translation or maybe its the plot but despite having a solid foundation, the building itself was shaky. And it went on and on with no end in sight which is contradictory to its fast pace. This basically sums the whole book.
Pros: Great pace, writing, storyline and atmosphere.
Cons: Dragging bits, unnecessary complications, bad plot structure.
Bibliogyan Verdict – Strictly for fans of Kepler or those easily forgiving.
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