The Mirror Man (Joona Linna #8), by Lars Kepler

Eight stars

Long a fan of Lars Kepler and the Joona Linna series, I was eager to get my hands on this latest publication. In a novel that is as intense as it is dark, the story pulls the reader into levels of depravity never thought imaginable. A young girl is kidnapped in plain sight and taken into custody, where she is locked away with a number of others. Years later, she’s found hanging in a playground, her past a great mystery. Now, a new girl has gone missing and Joona Linna is brought in to investigate. While Loona tries to piece it all together, a number of girls are being held captive by a man who is has elusive as he is cruel. Linna will have to work quickly to save these girls, though nothing is making much sense. Lars Kepler does it again with a novel that sends chills up the spine.

It was a sunny day when Jenny was abducted in plain sight, leaving her family wondering what had happened. As Jenny is taken to a nondescript house, she is locked away with other girls, all of whom are cowering in fear. Those who try escaping are met with severe punishment, at times far worse than they could ever imagine. Their captor is ruthless and will stop at nothing to keep order and fear.

When Jenny’s body is found hanging in a playground five years later, questions emerge as to where she has been and how she make it to the playground. Local CCTV offers some answers, though it is not nearly enough. It’s time for police detective Joona Linna to begin investigating, though his unorthodox style leaves some wondering how effective it can be. Linna finds an obscure parallel to a death that was deemed to be a suicide years before. Now, when a new girl, Mia, goes missing, Linna is sure that there is a serial kidnapper/murderer who has been targeting young girls and hopes to make a mockery of it all.

While Linna and the Swedish police begin trying to piece things together, Mia and her fellow captives are thrust into a world of torture and pain at the hands of a heinous woman. However, their greatest fears is bot her, but a man running the show, with a long history of psychiatric issues and who presents with a highly complex condition. As Linna follows all the leads available to him, he finds a clue that could help, but time is short and the lives of these girls seem readily expendable. Lars Kepler at their best again with another bone chilling tale that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages well into the night.

I have long come to enjoy the work of Lars Kepler, especially with the detailed narrative and strong storyline. There is something ‘unputdownable’ about the books, perhaps related to the depravity the antagonist presents throughout. The story flows well, even though it is translated, and the action continues throughout, keeping the reader on their toes during this dark journey.

Joona Linna is a protagonist like few others, with many of her personal struggles front and centre in the novel. While he is highly unorthodox, using illegal drugs to get through the day, his ability to investigate is like no other. Linna finds ways to get inside the heads of the most heinous killers and gets to the root of the crime. That being said, he cannot shake some of his personal issues, which shape all that he has become, making the stories all the more engrossing.

When I look for a strong police procedural with psychologistal thriller aspects, I need look no further than Lars Kepler. Each of the eight books have kept me hooked and I cannot say enough about them. The narrative is strong and keeps me connected throughout, with mid-length chapters to leave me demanding more. The plot is quite strong and the characters compelement it well. Sick and depraved antagonists round out the story well and keep me wondering just how far things will go until Joona Linna finds a way to solve the case. The fact that the story is translated always baffles me, as the writing flows with such ease. There is no hint of translation and I would swear it was penned in English from the beginning. Hats off the translator and Kepler’s ability to write so seamlessly. I would highly recommend these novels to anyone with time and a penchant for the darker psychologist thriller, alongside a police detective who will stop at nothing to get answers.

Kudos, Lars Kepler, for another sensational book in the series. What will you come up with next?