This is the first of two new standalone novels from the author of the wonderful Inspector Sejer series by this author, and bears many similarities to “The Murder of Harriet Krohn,” being published by Houghton Mifflin in November of this year: They can both be described as psychological thrillers, and both feature a man who is at least somewhat disturbed, who each in a fit of rage commits murder. The point of view in each is that of the killer, who to my mind could not be termed a “protagonist.” The distinction is that in the present novel, I could find no sympathy for that person.
Riktor has worked as a nurse for over 17 years. Now in his 40’s, he works at Lokka Nursing Home, ‘looking after’ (in his fashion) mostly very aged people almost completely unable to care for themselves in any sense of the term. ‘His fashion’ being that he frequently flushes their meds down the toilet, switches medications from one patient to another, and finds the mattress a good place into which to empty syringes, among other relatively minor forms of abuse. He lives with pain, sleeps little, describes his life as “barren” and “austere,” and it certainly is that. He speaks of his “quirks and fancies, my outbursts and attentions. Within me lurks an evil little devil who occasionally asserts himself. He’s impossible to avoid, because sometimes the temptation is too great. I’d never have believed it of Riktor, people would say in all their ignorant innocence, if they knew the truth about me and the things I’m capable of. I can see right through people. I can see what’s concealed in their innermost, shadowy recesses. And when it comes to evil, I can believe anything of anybody” and sees himself as being “someone on the outside of everything, a paltry observer of life.” And, of course, he can see in the dark.
At nearly the half-way point in the tale, and not long after the murder occurs, a police inspector appears at Riktor’s door. Not Inspector Sejer in this instance, but one no less tenacious and capable, and the battle of wits begins. At first, it seems as though the plot has taken an entirely different tangent. But ultimately not quite so much, in the hands of this very capable author. This book may not be for everyone, the early parts are rather depressing, but less so as the book continues. Another character says to Riktor as the book gets nearer to its conclusion, “Right tends to triumph in the end.” And the novel as a whole did as well, and is recommended....Continua