Synopses & Reviews
Lars Kepler returns with a piercing, bestselling sequel to The Hypnotist
After spellbinding audiences in The Hypnotist, Detective Inspector Joona Linna is back in The Nightmare, an internationally bestselling Swedish thriller published to critical acclaim in dozens of countries. As the Swedish newspaper Arbetarbladet put it, “The reader is ready to sell his own soul for the opportunity to read this book without interruption, in one sitting.”
On a summer night, police recover the body of a young woman from an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, and the forensics team is sure that she drowned. Why, then, is the pleasure boat still afloat, and why are there no traces of water on her clothes or body?
The next day, a man turns up dead in his state apartment in Stockholm, hanging from a lamp hook. All signs point to suicide, but the room has a high ceiling, and theres not a single piece of furniture around—nothing to climb on.
Joona Linna begins to piece together the two mysteries, but the logistics are a mere prelude to a dizzying and dangerous course of events. At its core, the most frightening aspect of The Nightmare isnt its gruesome crimes—its the dark psychology of its characters, who show us how blind we are to our own motives.
"Joona Linna looks into two bizarre deaths in Kepler's complex second novel featuring the Stockholm detective inspector (after 2011's The Hypnotist). Carl Palmcrona, the general director of the National Inspectorate of Strategic Products, which oversees military exports, is found hanged in an empty room in his house, while the Coast Guard discovers Penelope Fernandez drowned on a drifting motorboat in dry clothes. Linna senses there's more to both deaths than meets the eye, especially after Penelope's peace activist sister who wasn't one to keep her views on Sweden's arms export business to places like Sudan a secret goes missing. With the possible terrorist angle to consider, Linna must vie for control of the case with SÃ¤po, the Swedish Security Service, and reluctantly joins forces with a 25-year-old female SÃ¤po inspector. Fans of slow-burning Scandinavian crime fiction with troubled heroes will feel right at home with Kepler, the pseudonym of a Swedish literary couple. Agent: Jonas Axelsson, Bonnier Group Agency. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Kepler provides a master class in noir."—The Boston Globe
A drowned young woman is discovered on an abandoned pleasure boat drifting by the Stockholm archipelago---strangely, her clothes are dry. The next day in Stockholm, a man turns up dead, hanging from a lamp hook inside his completely bare apartment---but how could he have hung himself with no furniture to climb upon? As Detective Inspector Joona Linna begins to piece together the two mysteries, he discovers that they are a mere prelude to a dizzying and dangerous course of events. From the internationally bestselling author of The Hypnotist comes The Nightmare, another spellbinding tale of Nordic crime.
"Kepler provides a master class in noir."---The Boston Globe
A drowned young woman is discovered on an abandoned pleasure boat drifting by the Stockholm archipelago---strangely, her clothes are dry. The next day in Stockholm, a man turns up dead, hanging from a lamp hook inside his completely bare apartment---but how could he have hung himself with no furniture to climb upon? As Detective Inspector Joona Linna begins to piece together the two mysteries, he discovers that they are a mere prelude to a dizzying and dangerous course of events. From the internationally bestselling author of The Hypnotist comes another spellbinding tale of Nordic crime.
About the Author
Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for a literary couple who live and write in Sweden.
Reading Group Guide
1. What makes Penelope a survivor while others perish? How does her mothers legacy become a source of strength?
2. How did your impressions of Björn shift? Why were he and Penelope drawn to each other? What did they fail to realize about each other?
3. Discuss the network of political leaders in the photograph. What is their common motivation? How are they able to look past the suffering Penelope has devoted her life to eradicating?
4. What accounts for the differences, yet the devotion, between the siblings Robert and Axel, as well as between Penelope and Viola?
5. As Penelope and Björn desperately searched for help, were you surprised to see them rejected and brutalized? In your community, would it be hard to find a stranger who is willing to render aid?
6. Enduring his memories of Greta, does Axel form a therapeutic relationship with Beverly, or is their arrangement harmful to both of them?
7. What is the effect of the music that echoes throughout the novel? Were told that Guidis late wife, Fiorenza, was an accomplished violinist. How does he reconcile his passion for beautiful, rare musical instruments (including Fiorenzas Amati) with the bloodthirsty world he created?
8. How do Veronique and Pontus face the risks of doing business with Guidi? Why did they think they could outwit him? How did their experience differ from Palmcronas?
9. Is money the only allure of signing a Paganini contract? If Guidi were able to uncover your worst nightmare, what would it look like?
10. How do Saga and Joona complement each other? How are their detective roles different from that of The Needles (Chief of Forensic Medicine Nils Åhlén)?
11. In the closing scenes, a chain of world leaders, from Swedish export control workers to Kenyan politicians and international transportation companies, are thought to have acted “in good faith,” just as Pontus said would happen. What power do Penelope and her fellow activists have against such a system?
12. What do you predict for Peters future?
13. Discuss the statistics that are delivered in the novels closing paragraph. How did you react to the realities of weapons exportation?
14. How has Joona evolved since he handled the Josef Ek case in The Hypnotist? What do both novels say about the nature of evil?