Meet Finnish-born Swedish detective Joona Linna.
We first meet Joona Linna (who always seems to be referred to by both his names) in The Hypnotist (M) by Lars Kepler (a pseudonym for a Swedish wife and husband writing team) " Tumba, Sweden. A triple homicide, all of the victims from the same family, captivates Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the grisly murders -- against the wishes of the national police. The killer is at large, and it appears that the elder sister of the family escaped the carnage; it seems only a matter of time until she, too, is murdered. But where can Linna begin?
The only surviving witness is an intended victim -- the boy whose mother, father, and little sister were killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes intended for this boy to die: he has suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and Lapsed into a state of shock. He's in no condition to be questioned. Desperate for information, Linna sees one mode of recourse: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes. It's the sort of work that Bark had sworn he would never do again-ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a Long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl." publisher
Joona Linna exhibits a quiet, determined expertise and he sees clues that others miss. Finnish-born, though he grew up in Sweden, he retains the quirk of swearing in Finnish - which kind of loses its impact in a book that's been translated into English. The Swedish police force seem to be an ill-tempered lot who spend a lot of time screaming at one another. Joona Linna, however, keeps his cool. He isn't pushy, he just quietly insists on his own way and he gets it. He can find clues and make connections that are not obvious to his more run-of-the-mill colleagues. His "thing" or his humanizing factor are his debilitating migraines and his choice not to medicate himself to keep his mind clear and sharp.
I first met Joona Linna in the second in the series The Nightmare, (M) a psychological drama which is laced with the thrill of the chase. This is a big, busy book with a large cast of fascinating characters, and brutal crimes with global implications. The story begins with the separate murders of the sister of a peace advocate and an arms exporter. The sister appears to have drowned - her lungs are full of water - yet there is no trace of water on her body or clothes. The arms exporter seems to have hanged himself, but there is no apparent sign of how he reached his noose. At times menacing and graphic, this fast paced, suspenseful thriller features a vicious bad guy who introduces a horrible Sophie's Choice (M) element to the story
A satisfying read for anyone enjoying the wave of recent Scandinavian fiction by authors like Jo Nesbo (M), Camilla Lackberg (M) and Jussi Adler-Olsen (M).