Because I was light on posts last week, it probably looked like I was slacking off, but I was actually experiencing pop culture overload. I did a marathon of the entire first season of Homeland (SO good), saw Savages the movie (review later this week), and was glued to the tube for the Olympic trials (what was going on with Nastia Liukin??).
I also finished a couple of books and reviews, including this one for Lars Kepler’s The Nightmare (translated by Laura A. Wideburg, out July 3), the follow-up to The Hypnotist, one of my top five 2011 reads.
This novel opens with a woman found dead on an abandoned boat. Cause of death is drowning but her clothes are dry. Meanwhile, the body of a government official is discovered hanging in his home. Even Detective Joona Linna thinks the latter case is suicide…or is it? What drove the man to do it, and how might his death be related to the young woman’s on the boat? As Linna delves deeper, he crosses paths with a professional killer and a sadistic businessman involved in a scheme that would have horrific consequences on an international scale.
Whereas Hypnotist is a tense psychological thriller, this is more political commentary, something I don’t enjoy in my entertainment. There are psychological elements, but the characters remain elusive. The story sometimes wanders off on odd tangents—such as one involving a talk-show host playing a strange game—that don’t help propel it forward. The plot also relies on the coincidence of several people knowing classical music well, including a government official who provides an important key to a puzzle because he happens to be a musical prodigy.
When I mentioned the political angle to a friend, she said she had a Swedish neighbor who read this book in its original language and liked it better than The Hypnotist. The reason was that Nightmare dares to use names of real-life politicians in Sweden, and pulls no punches in its criticism. Perhaps, then, my inability to enjoy it as much is just a cultural thing, but I think something was lost in translation.
Nerd verdict: No goosebumps in Nightmare