cover image The Spider: A Killer Instinct Novel

The Spider: A Killer Instinct Novel

Lars Kepler, trans. from the Swedish by Alice Menzies. Knopf, $29 (496p) ISBN 978-0-593-32104-1

Kepler (the pen name of the married writing team Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril) ups the ante in this pulse-pounding ninth Killer Instinct thriller featuring detective Joona Linna. The last entry, 2022’s The Mirror Man, ended with a shocker, suggesting that Jurek Walter, who’d “killed more people than any other murderer in Northern Europe,” was still alive. Linna is sure he killed Walter, until another detective in Sweden’s National Crime Unit receives an ominous postcard signed with an anagram of Walter’s name and a death threat aimed at Linna and his confidants. Three years later, the blood starts to spill: when the head of Linna’s unit is attacked outside Stockholm, her assailant shoots her in the spine, paralyzing her, before subjecting her to further torments. Similar deaths follow, and the killer taunts the authorities by mailing them clues about his next move. Kepler manages to make each murder resonate, giving the deaths uncommon weight in the lives of Linna and his fellow detectives, who grow increasingly distraught at their failure to prevent the killings. That veracity, combined with regular passages of almost unbearable tension, make this another standout in a strong series. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency. (July)