From the Publisher
“Stunning. . . . Dahl has established himself as one of the leading voices in Scandinavian crime fiction.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Crackles with pent-up energy on every page.” —BookPage
“A compellingly stylish thriller that is also a thought-provoking social satire. . . . Add Arne Dahl to your list of must-haves in crime fiction.” —Open Letters Monthly
“Brims with deception, twists, and suspense. . . . Dahl’s special police unit is a diverse group of law enforcement agents whose chemistry creates dark humor amid the intense themes.” —Shelf Awareness
“One of this year’s most intense thrillers.” —GT (Sweden)
“A highly professional crime novel, and an insightful and thought-provoking social satire.” —Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)
Praise for Arne Dahl and Misterioso, the first Intercrime novel
“With dizzying speed Arne Dahl has climbed to the throne of Swedish crime literature. . . . His work is characterized by impartiality, lighthearted humor, epic flow, and poetic precision.” —Dagbladet Information (Denmark)
“Terrific. . . . Full of twists and turns, blind alleys and sudden assaults, procedural hassles and stakeouts.” —The Providence Journal
“Absorbing . . . A dark, tense thriller.” —Newark Star-Ledger
“Dahl has created a brilliant character and a terrific story. This is a classic cop-shop tale of the old school.” —The Globe and Mail (Canada)
An American serial killer preoccupies Det. Paul Hjelm and his National Criminal Police colleagues in Dahl’s second Intercrime novel (after 2011’s Misterioso). The “Kentucky Killer,” who murdered 18 people almost 15 years earlier, has within the last year struck again repeatedly. He tortured to death his latest victim, a Swedish literary critic, at New Jersey’s Newark Airport. When the elaborate effort to catch the murderer as he returns to Sweden fails, the police must wait for another murder. The various team members—including the captivating Kerstin Holm, who was briefly involved with Hjelm—assume tasks that play to their individual strengths. The reader will find the characters even more distinctive and well defined than in the first book. The American FBI agent Ray Larner is also memorable, though the descriptions of New York City are heavy-handed. The plot heats up in New York, races back to Stockholm and environs, and skids to a fair conclusion. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Aug.)
When he wants to, poet/critic Jan Arnold becomes Arne Dahl, the author of crime fiction that features the Intercrime team and wins major awards throughout Europe. Here, when a Swedish literary critic is found tortured to death in a janitor's closet at Newark's Liberty International Airport, his ticket home missing, the investigation ends up with Intercrime detectives Paul Hjelm and Kerstin Holm.
A U.S. serial killer goes transcontinental. Stockholm's A-Unit hasn't had much to do since they put away the so-called Power Killer, and the team is prepared to do a bit of police grunt work when the body of Swedish literary critic Lars-Erik Hassel is found in an American airport closet. Not only has Hassel been tortured to death in the most cruel and unusual way imaginable, but it quickly becomes clear that the killer has taken Hassel's seat on the next flight to Sweden. Although A-Unit leader Detective Superintendent Jan-Olov Hultin dispatches the team to the airport to keep the killer out, he manages to evade them and sneak into Sweden to institute his own peculiar reign of terror. After the team extricates itself from a few dead ends, Jan-Olov sends star players Paul Hjelm and Kerstin Holm stateside to work with FBI Special Agent Ray Larner, who's been researching the Kentucky Killer for years. It's been a long time since Larner saw his top suspect burn alive in a fiery wreck, but the unsolved case haunts him, and his madness soon infects Paul and Kerstin. The former lovers are acutely conscious of the boundaries of their relationship when the investigation leads to late nights, while their colleagues are kept busy tallying the body count as the killer gets down to work. Though Dahl's writing has lost some of the melancholy beauty of Misterioso (2011), the eerie premise and cogent reasoning will still satisfy.
Read an Excerpt
Pain beyond words, he thinks. Now I know what it is.
Learn for life, he thinks, and his gallows-humor laugh is silent. Learn for death, he thinks, and instead of laughter: yet another mute, infernal scream.
As the pain mounts its next attack, he knows with a kind of crystal-clear certainty that he has laughed his last laugh.
The pain is no longer deepening. With what he can still make out as a mixture of satisfaction and terror, he feels that its intensity has reached its peak, and he understands just what process is now under way.
The downward slope.
The graph of pain is no longer rising; it is leveling out, and beyond it he can glimpse the steep incline that will, with the inevitability of a playground slide, end in nothingness. Or—and he fights the thought—with God.
The pores of his body are wide open, small gaping mouths roaring the great Why that he can’t roar himself.
The images start to come to him; he knew they would. They come even as the pain increases to levels he couldn’t have imagined even in his wildest fantasies. He is surprised at the possibilities that have lain hidden within him all these years.
So they do exist.
A person always carries these intense potentials within.
While his entire being explodes in cascade after cascade, the pain seems more and more to shift from his fingers, genitals, and throat to a place outside himself. It somehow becomes general, rising above his body and invading his—and he can’t help thinking of the word—his soul. All the while he tries to keep his mind clear. But then come more images.
At first he fought to maintain contact with the world outside, but now the world outside, beyond the small window, is nothing more than the giant aircraft lumbering past. Now and then the figure of his tormentor glides by, with the deadly tools. Soon enough the roaring planes blend with the images, and now even the planes are transformed into shrieking, infernal spirits.
He can’t gain control over the images, how they come, their order, their structure. He sees the unforgettable interior of the labor room where his son has been born, but he hasn’t been there himself; rather, as his son is born, he hears himself throwing up in the bathroom. But now he is there, and it is beautiful, odorless, soundless. Life goes on, clean and pure. He greets people he recognizes as great authors. He drifts through elegant old corridors. He sees himself making love to his wife, and her expression is joyful in a way he’s never seen. He is standing at a podium; people applaud wildly. More corridors, meetings, conferences. He is on TV, showered with admiring looks. He sees himself writing with a white-hot passion, he sees himself read book after book, pile after pile of papers.
But when the pain pauses and the rumble of the planes brings him back, it strikes him that all he sees is himself reading and writing, not what he is reading and writing. During those short pauses when he can catch his breath, he wonders what this means.
It is clear now that the descent is starting. The pain no longer reaches him. He is fleeing his tormentor; he will be victorious. He even has the strength to spit on him, and the reply is a crunching sound and a small, slight increase in pain. Out of the darkness comes a roaring dragon, and it becomes an airplane that sweeps a lingering veil over a soccer field where his son is casting nervous glances at the sidelines. He waves to him, but his son doesn’t see; he waves more frantically and yells louder, but his son only looks more resigned until he scores a goal for the opposing team, out of distraction or protest.
Then he sees the young woman next to the bookshelf, her impressed glances. They’re walking along the large street, eagerly demonstrating their generation-defying love. On the other side: two completely motionless figures, his son and his wife, and he sees them and stops and gives her a deep kiss. He’s running, working out. The little needle presses down into his scalp again and again, and finally his glorious thick hair is back again. His cell phone rings during a debate at the book fair—another son. Champagne corks pop, but when he gets home, they’re gone.
And he’s reading again, and in a final burst of consciousness he thinks that something out of all he’s read and written ought to fly past, but the only thing he sees is himself reading and writing, and in one last shining second of lucidity that makes him think he is truly dying, he realizes that nothing he has read or written has meant anything. He might as well have done absolutely anything else.
He thinks of the threat. “No one will be able to hear you scream.” Of how he didn’t take the threat seriously. Because he suspected—a final burst of pain stops his last thought.
And so begins the end. His pain fades away. The images come quickly now. It’s as though there’s no time.
He’s walking in the protest march; the police raise their batons above him. He’s standing in a summer pasture, the horse racing toward him. A little grass snake slinks into his rubber boots and winds its way between his toes. His father looks absent-mindedly at his drawing of the enormous snake. The clouds rush by above the edge of the stroller canopy, and he thinks he sees a cat moving around up there. Sweet milk is sprayed over his face. The thick, pale green cord leads the way, and he travels through dark, fleshy canals.
And then he is no longer traveling.
Thinks somewhere: What a sleazy way to die.