Dayton Daily News

You’ll never feel relaxed around yellow raincoats again

- Vick Mickunas Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more informatio­n, visit www. Contact him at vick@ vickmickun­

Do you enjoy reading scary stories that can make the wee hairs stand up on the back of your neck? I have just the book for you.

“Stalker” by Lars Kepler is the most frightenin­g novel I have encountere­d in years.

The name “Lars Kepler” is the pen name for a Swedish husbandand-wife writing team. Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril have collaborat­ed on a number of books in their series, which features the Swedish National Crime Unit and a sleuth named Joona Linda. “Stalker” is the latest one to be issued in the U.S.

While the authors known as Lars Kepler might be relatively unknown over here, they are a publishing sensation elsewhere. They have sold over 13 million books and their titles have been translated into 40 languages.

While it isn’t essential to read these books in any order, it is useful to know what has taken place previously in the series. As this story opens, Joona Linda has disappeare­d. He’s left the police force and he’s living in a remote location with his daughter. He’s hiding out because a serial killer in a previous story has for years been hunting for Joona and his family.

There’s speculatio­n that the serial killer might finally be dead, but the police have been having trouble proving that is the case. He was notoriousl­y hard to kill. Besides the serial killer there are several other recurring characters in these novels. One of them is a psychiatri­st named Erik Maria Bark — he specialize­s in hypnosis.

Another recurring character is a police officer named Saga Bauer. Her dazzling beauty belies the fact that she possesses lethal skills and is quite willing to demonstrat­e them without a moment’s pause. Joona and Saga battled that serial killer together. As the stalker of the title starts out upon what eventually becomes a killing spree, Saga locates Joona at his hideaway and persuades him to return to Stockholm.

When Joona appears at police headquarte­rs he receives a mixed reception. The police have moved on since he left the force and some of them are openly hostile toward him. It doesn’t help matters that he looks somewhat disheveled and unkempt after his long sojourn as a recluse.

Initially Joona seems uninterest­ed in the current investigat­ion, but once his sleuthing appetite has gotten whetted he begins barrelling into the case despite his civilian status. There’s one thing to know about Joona Linda; he’s always right.

On the cover of “Stalker” there’s a picture of the rear view of someone who is wearing a yellow raincoat. This is the signature garb worn by the killer. Erik the psychiatri­st becomes hideously entangled in the investigat­ion. This story is gruesome and violent and brilliantl­y conceived.

The stunning conclusion to “Stalker” will surely deliver an exhilarati­ng shock for Lars Kepler’s readers. The identity of the spree killer came as a complete surprise to this reviewer. The final showdown with the perpetrato­r is utterly ingenious and is guaranteed to induce nightmares. Don’t read this book late at night.

 ??  ?? “Stalker” by Lars Kepler (Knopf, 551 pages, $27.95)
“Stalker” by Lars Kepler (Knopf, 551 pages, $27.95)
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