Heart-stopping Thrillers: The Sandman

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

It’s no secret that I love crime fiction. I especially like Scandinavian crime fiction and get really excited at the prospect of fresh blood on the scene, so to speak.

Given the chance to read Lars Keplar’s new book, The Sandman, I was all over it. Turns out that a) Lars Keplar is actually a pseudonym for husband and wife writers, Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahdoril and b) it’s not a brand new series at all. The Sandman is actually the 4th book in a series about Inspector Joona Linna.

In the interest of brevity (and not giving too much away because it’s a complicated book but the element of surprise is obviously incredibly important to this genre) here is the synopsis from Random House:


During a cold winter night in Stockholm a man is found walking alongside a railway bridge, suffering from hypothermia and legionella. After he’s rushed to the hospital, it’s discovered that, according to a death certificate, the man has been dead for over seven years. He is believed to be a victim of notorious serial killer Jurek Walter, who was arrested years ago by Detective Inspector Joona Linna and sentenced to a life of total isolation in forensic psychiatric care. As Joona Linna investigates where the “dead man” has been all these years, some unexpected evidence leads to the reopening of a cold case. Danger is imminent, and someone needs to get under the skin of the serial killer–fast–as they are running out of time.

Considering this was the 4th in a series, I didn’t feel like I was missing large parts of back story. In fact, I found that this was a complete standalone book (although I want to go back and read the other three). Joona Linna was a completely formed character even without the other books. I got the sense that there was more to the relationships with his colleagues that didn’t get much attention this time, but not enough to distract me and leave me wondering “what’s that about?”

Lars Keplar is following in the fine Scandinavian crime writer tradition of being messed up as f%&^! This book! It was a complete and total thrill ride. You should maybe be prepared not to read this right before bed or in the dark, or really if you’re alone at all. I definitely wouldn’t read it standing at a bus stop alone in the dark. That would be terrifying. I found myself reading strategically – leaving off at a point where I felt the characters were safe for a bit; if I needed to stop reading but I was at a really crazy part, I just kept reading until I had reached the safety point.

A lot happens in this book and it’s all significant. But if you take a peek at the Goodreads comments, you will notice that people were quite put out by the ending. Without giving anything away, the ending is a bit open-ended. As soon as I finished it, I jumped over to Google to see if I could find any evidence that this would not be the final book in the series. If it is…that’s not any kind of closure. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out if there will be another book.

If you are looking for a ridiculous thrill ride that gets your blood pumping on cold, rainy fall days, get yourself a copy of The Sandman. I haven’t enjoyed a thriller like that in a long time.