Author: Lars Kepler, 2010. Translated from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg, 2012.
Genre: Police Procedural. Political Thriller. Nordic Noir.
Other Details: Hardback. 500 pages.
Stockholm, Sweden: the lifeless body of a young woman is discovered on an abandoned boat. Later, a man is found hanging alone in his apartment. Should the deaths be treated as suicide or murder? Only four people know the answer. And one man wants them dead. Can Detective Inspector Joona Linna keep them alive long enough to find out the truth? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
The young woman found in the opening pages has apparently drowned even though her body and clothes are dry. Then with the first chapter the narrative moves back to the recent past and we learn that she is the sister of a noted peace activist, Penelope Fernandez, who was also on the boat along with her boyfriend. Likewise, the man found hanging is Carl Palmcrona, the director of the National Inspectorate of Strategic Products, the government agency responsible for the export of armaments. Detective Inspector Joona Linna looks into these deaths as well as the whereabouts of Penelope and her boyfriend. He is teamed with Saga Bauer, an investigator with Sweden's security service (SAPO) and an expert in anti-terrorism.
I found this a stronger second outing for Joona Linna though I had also enjoyed The Hypnotist (2011 Book 90). As with other writers of Swedish crime fiction there are underlying social issues at the core of the story; here the issues associated with the dealing of arms to war torn countries. The twists and turns certainly provided thrills as the meaning of the title became clear. The ending was genuinely chilling. There is also a theme of music as is evident by the author's prefacing the novel with the legend of Paganini, the violinist said to have made a pact with the Devil.
It was also an interesting coincidence that Joona's co-investigator, Saga Bauer, was often referenced for her beauty and elf-like appearance and this drew to mind another young Swedish investigator named Saga, the character in the TV programme 'The Bridge'.