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THE RABBIT HUNTER
by Lars Kepler and Neil Smith, trans.
Alfred A Knopf, January 2020
528 pages
$27.95
ISBN: 1524732281


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Although I have not read the first five Joona Linna books, I certainly will. This is a topnotch thriller/murder mystery by the husband and wife team who together write as Lars Kepler. The fact that I had not read the previous books in the series made no difference, as Kepler seamlessly fills in missing information for the reader.

A renowned chef, who gets drunk and urinates into the Swedish foreign minister's pool, sees a lurking figure reflected in the windows. The foreign minister is on the verge of brutally abusing a prostitute when he is even more brutally murdered. The security police assume it is a terrorist attack and turn to imprisoned security officer Joona for help. Released on leave, Joona follows the terrorist lead, but the operation goes wrong, and Joona realizes the murder has nothing to do with terrorism.

Gradually a complex saga unfolds, as the killer, wearing actual rabbit ears, knocks off one victim after another, carving them up and allowing them to live for exactly nineteen minutes before he delivers the coup de grÔce. Joona and detective Saga Bauer gradually learn that the current victims appear to be perpetrators of a grisly gang rape by students at a private school years ago. They race to reach the other potential victims before the decidedly twisted murderer does.

THE RABBIT HUNTER is dark stuff. Even sympathetic characters engage in bewilderingly unsavoury acts at times, and the murders are vicious and inhumane. The sinister side of human nature is spotlighted throughout, though there are also many endearing and admirable characters, any one of whom might be the murderer.

The plot is full of startling twists and turns. I had no idea who the murderer might be until very late in the book, though the clues had been laid, in a careful and cleverly deceptive manner. It is a quite brilliantly written novel, and its themes (of privilege abused, women mistreated, alcoholism, familial misunderstandings, the challenges of prostitution) are politically and social pertinent.

In THE RABBIT HUNTER, Kepler creates a believable and gritty world, characters with convincing motivations, and an utterly suspenseful plot. Don't miss it.

ž Meg Westley is a writer and retired educator living in Stratford, Ontario.

Reviewed by Meg Westley, January 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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