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Cover image for The nightmare
The nightmare
Uniform Title:
Paganinikontraktet. English
1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
Physical Description:
500 pages ; 24 cm.
Number in series:
General Note:
"Sarah Crichton books."

Sequel to: The hypnotist.
"In this sequel to THE HYPNOTIST, Detective Joona Linna returns to investigate a series of interlinking murders surrounding a suspicious Swedish arms deal"-- Provided by publisher.
Geographic Term:

Added Author:


Call Number
Kepler, L.
MYSTERY Kepler, L.

On Order



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 there's 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 isn't its gruesome crimes--it's the dark psychology of its characters, who show us how blind we are to our own motives.


Author Notes

Lars Kepler is a Swedish pseudonym used by Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. Their works include The Hypnotist and The Paganini Contract. These Swedish authors created the pen name by using two of the people they most admire, Swedish author Steig Larsson and German scientist Johannes Kepler. Alexander and Alexandra are married to each other and live in Sweden.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Scandinavian sleuth Joona Linna of the National Homicide Squad has a way with odd murder cases, and in Kepler's latest, he faces two real puzzlers. A young woman is found dead on a deserted yacht, her lungs full of water, but her body and clothes dry as a bone. The following day, a government official is discovered in his Stockholm apartment hanging from a high rafter, an apparent suicide-except there is no furniture in the room on which he could have made his fatal climb. Narrator Mark Bramhall smoothly handles tongue-twisting Nordic names, and sets a pace that allows the listener to properly process the often-perplexing events without diminishing their chilling effect. He also provides a variety of appropriate voices for a large cast that includes a surprisingly emotional antiterrorist expert, a frightened young peace activist on the run from an unstoppable assassin, and the evil mastermind behind the deaths. An FSG/Sarah Crichton hardcover. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Aren't Swedes supposed to be nice socialists? Not if they're arms dealers, the milieu of this latest whodunit by the Stockholm couple who writes as Lars Kepler (The Hypnotist, 2011). Scene one: The sister of a Central American peace activist, her skin "the soft golden color of virgin olive oil or honey," is brutally murdered. The activist's boyfriend, it seems, may know why. But then comes scene two: The director of the National Inspectorate of Strategic Products--for which read weaponry--turns up dead, too, dispatched most brutally. Mulls the investigating officer, "Joona. I have to talk to Joona Linna immediately." Et voil: As world-weary as, if slightly less morose than, Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander, Joona Linna, detective extraordinaire, is on the scene. Did we say extraordinaire? Yah, sure: As one cop recalls, "I'd say I'm fairly well versed in forensics...but Joona walked in, took a look at the blood spatters...He knew right away when each murder had occurred." Things don't go quite so smoothly for Joona this time around, though, as the novel's 500-plus pages might suggest. For one thing, those arms dealers are an oily, nasty, evil, sneering and altogether sinister bunch, even if they have nice haircuts and well-manicured nails. For another, there are countless red herrings in herring-rich Sweden. Suffice it to say that Kepler has a most pronounced penchant, la Larsson, for describing exceptionally nasty criminal behavior ("Answer me! You want me to shoot your wife again or rape your sister?"). And suffice it to say that when the bad guys are finally revealed, it's not a minute too soon--and not just because those 500-plus pages are 100-odd pages more than the story really calls for. Overall, less expertly told and deeply layered than a Henning Mankell yarn, less politically charged than a Stieg Larsson caper, and less well-written than any of Janwillem van de Wetering's procedurals down Holland way--but still a satisfying thriller.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In this follow-up to The Hypnotist (2009), icy Swedish inspector Joona Linna investigates two murders, and nothing is as it seems. People are already feeling a bit disoriented, for it's June in Sweden, when the sun shines more than 20 hours a day. A young woman is found dead, having drowned but inside a boat where there is no water. A high-profile government-agency head is found hanging in his apartment, an apparent suicide yet the ceiling beams are far too high for him to have done it alone. The killings are obviously the work of a professional assassin, yet Linna easily finds mistakes at the scenes were the mistakes leftdeliberately? As she gets further into the investigations, a web of blackmail, international politics, bureaucracy, and stick with it classical-music theory emerges. While the plot is overstuffed and the pacing is stiff, Kepler (a pseudonym for husband-and-wife team Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril) creates a terrific, almost palpable atmosphere, which is sure to please fans of Swedish crime fiction.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

On a June night, a pleasure boat is found drifting on a bay in the Stockholm archipelago; its only passenger is a young woman who drowned although her clothes are dry. The next day a well-dressed man is discovered hanging from a lamp hook in his apartment, an apparent suicide. There seems to be no connection between the cases until Insp. Joona Linna identifies the victims. The dead woman is the sister of Penelope Fernandez, a well-known peace activist, and the hanged man is Carl Palmcrona, a government official in charge of approving Sweden's arms exports. Now Joona must race to find Penelope before a ruthless killer does. Verdict As in The Hypnotist, Kepler (a husband-and-wife writing team) displays a sharp talent for intricate multistrand plotting and nail-biting suspense. The scenes of Penelope and her boyfriend trying to escape their single-minded pursuer on a remote island are almost unbearable in their gripping tension, yet the reader can't stop turning the pages. Unfortunately, the gothic creepiness and shocking violence turn cartoonish when the villain is finally confronted in an unbelievable and ridiculous denouement that comes out of a bad James Bond movie. Still, fans of Swedish crime fiction may enjoy, although they will hate themselves for wasting precious vacation reading time after finishing this disappointing thriller. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/12; previewed in Kristi Chadwick's "Crime Travels" spotlight feature, LJ 4/15/12.-Ed.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.