SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: THE SANDMAN BY LARS KEPLER

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

The Sandman By Lars Kepler

The Sandman is the fourth Joona Linna book from Lars Kepler, aka crime-writing duo Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, but the first I’ve read. My mission now is to track down English translations of the previous three … and then await the translation of the next book, Stalker. Yes, I was impressed. Here’s the blurb:

The No 1 Swedish thriller by the author of The Hypnotist and The Fire Witness He’s Sweden’s most prolific serial killer. Jurek Walter is serving a life sentence. Kept in solitary confinement, he is still considered extremely dangerous by psychiatric staff. He’ll lull you into a sense of calm. Mikael knows him as the sandman. Seven years ago, he was taken from his bed along with his sister. They are both presumed dead. He has one target left. When Mikael is discovered on a railway line, close to death, the hunt begins for his sister. To get to the truth, Detective Inspector Joona Linna will need to get closer than ever to the man who stripped him of a family; the man who wants Linna dead.

Here’s a snippet I shared in a recent Tuesday Teaser post:

Anders bangs on the door. His hands thud almost soundlessly against the thick metal. He bangs again. There’s no sound, nothing is happening. He taps on the glass with his wedding ring, then sees a shadow growing across the wall.

Talk about a tense read! The pace is fast, the tension so thick you could cut it, the writing sharp and compelling. Suspense is maintained via short chapters that leave the reader hanging … only to heave a sigh of relief or gasp in surprise at the next page. Kepler sets up an atmosphere of isolation that is creepy and discomforting, with many of the characters left feeling alone and helpless, even when people are around them; it’s as if Walter is somehow transferring his physical experience of solitary confinement onto others. The ending left me chilled and uneasy – if you don’t like open endings, best to leave this one. Dark and clever, The Sandman is a great example of Scandinavian crime fiction, and one I’d recommend to lovers of the genre. While it is part of a series, I wasn’t left in the dark by starting the series at book 4, though I would like to start from the beginning out of interest.

Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Harper Collins Australia.