TITLE: THE NIGHTMARE
AUTHOR: LARS KEPLER
Details: no. 2 Joona Linna
“On a summer’s evening a young woman’s body is discovered aboard an abandoned boat. The likely cause of death is drowning, but her clothes are completely dry.
A man is found hung in his apartment. His death looks like suicide, although there is nothing to climb on to reach the ceiling.
On the surface the deaths seem unconnected but Detective Inspector Joona Linna suspects something more sinister. He discovers that the woman is the sister of Penelope Fernandez, spokesperson for a peace organisation. The hanging man is Carl Palmcrona, General Director of a Swedish Arms committee.
A killer is at large with more targets suspected. Contracts have been broken and blood will be shed. The one certainty is that only Joona Linna can stop… The Nightmare.
Judging by the blurb this should have been a fascinating thriller. And it has all the hallmarks of one; people are being pursuit by a killer for reasons they are as unaware of as the investigators and the reader. A mysterious but innocent looking photograph seems to be the reason for all the violence, although initially nobody can figure out why. National and international politics are somehow involved in what is going on, but whether intentionally or by accident is unclear. And even when the reasons for the violence become clear it proves next to impossible to find enough proof to stop it. And, all these aspects of the story worked for me. The storyline involving the mystery, the investigation and the eventual resolution was both well plotted and intriguing.
What didn’t work as well for me is the way this book asked me to stretch my imagination a little bit further than is comfortable. Linna’s unfailing intuition, allowing him to perceive what is going on long before any evidence has been found, is a bit much to deal with anyway. But I could live with that if I didn’t also have to deal with the obscure back-stories some of the other characters carry with them. In fact, the multitude of back-stories, both for main, recurring, characters and for those who are unique to this book slowed the story down to an unnecessary extent. I don’t think we needed to know all the details we were told about Penelope’s time in Darfur, or the drama involving a musical competition in another characters’ youth. The story would have worked just as well without those details and would have moved a lot faster.
I also thought that the writing was an odd mixture between distant and intimate. We are told a lot about every single character yet it is told in a tone as if it doesn’t really matter; we learn a lot about characters without ever developing any emotions about them. And this means that even though the book ends on at least two personal cliff-hangers for Linna I find myself rather uncurious as to what will happen next.
This was in interesting thriller that would have greatly benefitted from being a good bit shorter.
Related post: The Hypnotist; no. 1 Joona Linna