From the Publisher
“Larsson is destined to have many heirs...[Kepler] is by far the best.” Lev Grossman, Time
“One convincing psychotic is about as much as most thriller writers can handle, but Kepler delivers them by the roomful.” Time
“Compellingly grisly.” Vogue
“Kepler provides a master class in noir.” The Boston Globe
“Action-oriented, inventive, with over-the-top plots and larger-than-life heroes and criminals.” Los Angeles Times Magazine
“Outrageously entertaining...Methadone for readers suffering from Stieg Larsson withdrawal.” Laura Miller, Salon
“Kepler's characters are admirably flawed...It's a smooth collaboration...with frequent surprises and grace notes amid the carnage. With any luck, we'll hear more of Lars Kepler.” Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
Insanity and evil pervade the pseudonymous Kepler’s gripping third novel featuring Stockholm Det. Insp. Joona Linna (after 2012’s The Nightmare). At a facility for troubled girls, a resident and the nurse in charge have both had their skulls crushed. One of the inmates, Vicky Bennet, has gone missing, a bloody hammer left in her bed. Although Vicky seems incapable of murder, she becomes the only suspect. Vicky’s theft of a car results in the accidental kidnapping of four-year-old Dante Abrahamsson, who’s asleep in the back of the car. When Linna discovers the missing car in a river, both Vicky and Dante are presumed dead, and the investigation is closed. Linna, though, is certain that they’re both still alive and continues his search. False leads, administrative difficulties, and hints of a case involving Linna’s own family keep the pages flying by. Agent: Jonas Axelsson, Bonnier Group Agency (Sweden). (July)
Read an Excerpt
Elisabet Grim is fifty-three years old. Her hair is streaked with gray, but her eyes are bright and happy, and when she smiles, one of her front teeth juts out impishly.
She is a nurse at Birgittagården, a state-approved home for especially troubled girls north of Sundsvall. It’s a small, privately owned residence. Rarely are there more than eight girls there at a time. They range from twelve to seventeen in age. Many are drug addicts when they arrive. Almost all have a history of self-injury—eating disorders, for instance. Some can be violent. For these girls, there is no alternative to Birgittagården, with its alarms and double-locked doors. The next step would be prison or forced confinement in a psychiatric unit. This home, by comparison, is a hopeful place, with the expectation that the girls can make it back someday to open care.
As Elisabet often says, “It’s the nice girls who end up here.”
Right now, Elisabet is savoring the last bite of a bittersweet bar of chocolate. She can feel her shoulders begin to relax.
The day started well but the evening was hard. There were classes in the morning, and in the afternoon, the girls spent time at the lake. After the evening meal, the housemother went home, leaving Elisabet in charge on her own. The night staff was recently let go when the company changed hands. Elisabet had sat in the nurse’s office, catching up with reports, while the girls watched television, which they were allowed to do until ten.
And then she’d heard the yelling. It was loud, very loud. She’d hurried to the television room, where Miranda was beating up tiny Tuula. Miranda was screaming that Tuula was a slut and a whore. She’d yanked the little girl off the sofa and was kicking her in the back.
It was not unusual for Miranda to explode violently. Elisabet was used to her outbursts. She pulled her away from Tuula, and Miranda slapped Elisabet in the face. Elisabet was used to that, too. Without further discussion she led Miranda down the hall to the isolation room. Elisabet wished Miranda a good night, but Miranda didn’t answer. She just sat on the bed and studied the floor with a secretive smile as the nurse shut and locked the door behind her.
Elisabet was scheduled to have a private talk with the new girl, Vicky Bennet, but after the conflict, she found she was exhausted and couldn’t face it. When Vicky came by and timidly mentioned that it was her turn for a chat, Elisabet put her off. This made Vicky so unhappy, she broke a teacup and slashed her stomach and wrists with the sharpest piece.
When Elisabet checked on her a while later, Vicky was sitting in her room with her hands in front of her face and blood running down her arms.
The wounds were superficial. Elisabet washed the blood off, wrapped gauze around the girl’s wrists, and put a Band-Aid on her stomach. And Elisabet comforted her, soothing her with sweet names, telling her not to worry, coaxing her until a tiny smile crossed the troubled girl’s face. For the third night in a row, Elisabet gave the girl ten milligrams of Sonata so she could sleep.
Copyright © 2011 by Lars Kepler
Translation copyright © 2013 by Laura A. Wideburg