cover image Lazarus: A Killer Instinct Novel

Lazarus: A Killer Instinct Novel

Lars Kepler, trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Knopf, $28.95 (528p) ISBN 9

In Kepler’s relentlessly grim seventh Killer Instinct novel (after 2018’s The Rabbit Hunter), Joona Linna, a superintendent with Sweden’s National Crimes Unit, who has “solved more complex murder cases than anyone else in Scandinavia,” returns to active duty after completing a community service sentence following time in prison for assault. Meanwhile, a suspected grave robber is murdered in Oslo, and in his refrigerator is the skull of Linna’s late wife, which the robber apparently dug up in Sweden and brought home to Norway. The dead man has whip marks on his back, injuries similar to those Linna saw on the brother of his dead Hannibal Lecter–like adversary, Jurek Walter, in a previous outing. In Germany, those same injuries show up on the body of another murdered criminal, who made a call to Linna’s cellphone shortly before his death. Linna becomes convinced that Walter is still alive and recruiting men across Europe to serve as accomplices in his crimes. Kepler (the pen name of a husband-wife writing team) maintains an almost unbearable level of tension throughout and does an outstanding job of making readers fear that anyone could die a horrible death at any time. Fans of serial killer fiction won’t want to miss this one. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Dec.)