Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book Review: Stalker by Lars Kepler

Book: Stalker

Author: Lars Kepler

Publisher: Harper Collins

Pages: 528

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3-4 days


A film arrives at the National Criminal Investigation Department in Stockholm. It shows a woman, alive, being filmed through the window of her house. She does not know she is being watched. The police don’t take it seriously. Until she is found dead.
When the next video arrives, Detective Margot Silverman frantically searches for any way of identifying the victim. But it is already too late. Because at the time the video was sent, the subject was already facing the terrifying final moments of their life. And without anything to link the victims, the police are powerless to help them.
Soon Stockholm is in the grip of terror. Who will the Stalker target next?

General Thoughts: Scandinavian (Scandi) crime fiction is not for everyone. Seriously. You either LOVE it (intentional ALL CAPS) or detest it. I am somewhere in between. If you're wondering why Scandi crime fiction elicits such extreme views, then let me share what I think the issue is. Scandi crime fiction is extremely detailed. You get to see the backstories of every character, supporting character and even passing-by, not-even-relevant-to-the-narrative character. When I say backstories, I mean you get to know everything about them- childhood, teens, how they fell in love, how they stumbled into their career of choice etc. etc. Now, don't get me wrong.. I love a good backstory. Crime fiction, often, lacks good or even slightly detailed backstories or context setting. However, the highly nuanced, detailed backstories, which go on for chapters and often have no real connection to or impact on the actual "mystery" can get a bit much for some people. Like I said, I am neutral! I sometimes enjoy the long windedness of Scandi crime fiction, whereas sometimes I don't. To be honest, it depends on my mood and how much time I have at my disposal. 

Things I Liked: 

1. This book is #5 in the Detective Joona Linna (key protagonist) series but the beauty of this book is that you can read this and follow along without necessarily knowing the context of the previous four instalments. 

2. The premise of the book is interesting. Stalking is scary! Remember the blank calls of the pre-cellphone era in India?! Gah! Brrr! I don't like the thought of an unknown enemy stalking and observing someone without their knowledge. So, this book is about a series of serial killings in Stockholm, where each victim was first stalked for days/weeks by an unknown predator. The police receive a video of the victim being stalked and within 8-10 minutes, the victim is found dead. Interesting, right? 

3. The investigating team is made up of interesting characters- 

a) Margot Silverman is gay and is expecting her third child and struggling to balance her family and work. She is one of the few people who cotton on to the fact that this killer will go serial.. or that he has killed before. 

b) Then, of course, there is Joona Linna.. To me, he seemed like a bit of a cliche- the typical dedicated detective, who is willing to do what it takes to stop the killer! Nothing very unique about him.. at least in this book.. but, again, nothing to complain about. 

c) Then we have Erik, who is 'the hypnotist'.. a psychiatrist, who uses hypnosis to get traumatised people to recollect suppressed memories. He was, again, fairly typical.. angsty, struggling with something.. but his was an interesting voice because he found something oddly reminiscent between the killer's MO (modus operandi) with a 10-year old murder case. So, there is a track that focuses on his investigative efforts. 

4. The book is well paced. It is not a page-turner because.. (^^ look at 'General Thoughts' above^^).. but in spite of the many, many backstories and details, it is still quite gripping because the killer is still killing and the team is still trying to play catch-up with him. 

5. There is a pretty decent twist, which you may or may not see coming.. it is a good one, though. I was semi-shocked by it.. I had thought of the possibility when the crimes were described, but then all the other details pushed that thought to the back of my mind.. oh well! 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Only one thing- just too many chapters from perspectives of random people, some of whom we never ever saw in the book! This book could have benefitted from sharper editing. 

Rating: 3.5/5
Definitely worth a read.. but remember to be patient! :) 

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