The Fire Witness – Lars Kepler

Setting: Birgittagarden, a state approved home for troubled girls, north of Sundsvall, Sweden.

Story: One of the girls is found murdered, bludgeoned to death, with her body rearranged so that her hands cover her eyes. The same night, a member of staff is also killed, and one of the other girls – in whose bed the murder weapon is found – goes on the run. Detective Inspector Joona Linna doesn’t think it’s as straightforward as it looks as the hunt for the fugitive girl heats up. Meantime, there’s a psychic trying to tell the police, she has had a message from beyond about the crime.

Good Stuff: If you read the books in order (see the note at the end) this is evidence of the growing talent of the authorial team. Again, they deliver a page turner, with fine flourishes of action, and some nifty red herrings sprinkled about the plot. Linna is a fine main character, and his performance here is heightened by a developing story that will run into the next novel in the series.

Not So Good Stuff: While the action and the pace and the general quality are increased, I felt the subsidiary characters got a raw deal. Apart from the troubled medium, you are almost in the land of cardboard cutouts. However, to balance that, the story did not need more in the way of such support and such extra detail may have turned it into a longer book than it needed to be.

Score: 8.5/10

Note: This is the third of the four in the series. In order, – with links to my reviews – they are: The Hypnotist, The Nightmare, The Fire Witness, and The Sandman. I did not read them in order, and that has not materially altered my enjoyment. However, especially between the last two books, it would have been better. In short, read them in order if you can.