You Read What? Book Reviews: The Nightmare

I bet most of you guys are secretly cheering, “Yay! Finally, a book that isn’t YA or dystopic!” I don’t go in thinking, “Mmm…is this YA? Is this going to discuss a crappy potential future I might have?” I just pick up whatever interests me…which also happens to be a lot of shitty future stuff. 🙂 Whatever, I’m happy for something new too.

LARS KEPLER is a pseudonym for a husband and wife team of writers, Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril, who’ve joined under one name to separate themselves from their individual works. After the success of their smash hit, The Hypnotist, they’ve returned with the follow up, The Nightmare, and The Fire Witness (unknown when it’ll be available in English).

(Picture of Authors: Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril)












There are multiple covers of the book but the one that I got from the library has dark silhouette of a man who’s in front of a chain linked fence/wall. Behind the fence is a dimly lit hallway/tunnel which gives off this creepy vibe. Overall, it’s a dark and vague cover which is great because, with a title like The Nightmare, you’d want to read this in hopes of being scared. As a fan of The Hypnotist’s cover (creepy, dark, silhouette of a person at the top of the stairs…), I felt that this was in line with series.


Following the massive success of The Hypnotist both in Sweden and internationally, Lars Kepler is back in full force with The Nightmare (original: Paganinikontraktet), which has already sold 460,000 copies in multiple formats.

On a summer night, the dead body of a woman is found aboard an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around in the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, but there are no traces of this water on her clothes or other parts of her body.

“She drowned, Joona,” says the professor of forensic medicine.


The professor nods and smiles. “She drowned on board a floating boat,” he says.

“Probably someone found her in the sea and pulled her on board the boat.”

“If I thought that’s what happened, I wouldn’t be taking up your time,” says the professor.

The next day a man is found dead in his state apartment in Stockholm. The man is hanging from a noose from the lamp-hook in the ceiling. How did it happen? The room has a high ceiling and there isn’t one single piece of furniture to climb on in the room. Nevertheless, Detective Inspector Joona Linna is convinced that it is suicide.

Of course he is right, but that doesn’t close the case. In fact it’s only the prelude to a dizzingly intense and dangerous course of events. Certain things are never finished, even when you’re dead…

Thought I’d give my rankings early due to the extreme spoiler warning.

I give this 4 ½ Nightmares out of 5

[WARNING: Spoilers are featured in this review. Since this is a crime/mystery novel, the spoilers can ruin your reading experience. Proceed with caution…]


First off, I’d like to say that I don’t think I could write a really great mystery/crime novel because of the intricacies required in the plot. With that being said, this novel was phenomenal. You can always trust Lars Kepler to change your mind about how things will play out throughout the book. There were so many twists and turns as well as new techniques that I never knew were possible. An example would be how Viola was drowned without being drenched in water. Another example would be how they figured out what song was being played at the moment a picture was taken by just looking at the figure placements. This book blew my mind…and had me looking under the covers as warned via twitter by the guys at Random House Canada.


The writing was excellent. You would never have thought that two different people had written it as seamless as it was. The pacing was great and I’m really happy they wrote it in third person due to the nature of the genre (crime thriller/mystery) and the multiple points of views we’re given throughout. Its style of writing is very similar to fellow Swedish author, Stieg Larsson (writer of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series).


The main character, Joona Linna, is a true mystery in the novel. In the last book, The Hypnotist, we’re given crumbs of information into his past outside of his work as a detective but in this book we’re given a little more…but not enough (in my opinion. I’m fascinated by him). Regardless, we do see his character unfold subtly as the case progresses and it’s the same for the other characters in the book. Basically, by the end (and sometimes even earlier than that) you get to know who these people are along with a juicy plot to sink into. These are people who are complicated and very real. The typical “good guys” (i.e. Cops) are sometimes the bad guys because of their undesirable personalities and I really love that this book is filled with so many grey areas.

Memorable or Forgettable

Hopefully this novel will be memorable because it was such a great read but I have a feeling it won’t be. It’s a crime novel and a lot of the crime novels aren’t memorable because it’s more focused on the plot than on developing characters. The difference between this book and many other crime novels to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series is that Larsson’s series is so messed up (in terms of the crap that is done to Lisbeth Salander) that you can’t help but carry it with you…

I give this 4 ½ Nightmares out of 5

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

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