Monday, March 8, 2010

The Beast, by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

This may be one of the most graphic crime novels I've ever read, and one of the most unsettling books as well. I read a lot, and this one really got me.

From the outset the reader is sucked directly into the mind of a psychopathic sex offender, Bernt Lund, a very sick pedophile who preys on young girls. And it's not pretty, not at all.  After he kidnaps and kills two girls he is caught & put into a sex offender unit in prison after being diagnosed with a "minor mental disorder", but manages to escape, even though chained, while in transit to the hospital. Ewert Grens and his partner are assigned to the case, and Grens knows, after having spent a lot of time studying Lund, that he's likely to do it again and soon.  But even after elaborate preparations and police watches on nursery schools, the police don't make it in time to prevent another kidnapping.  The father of this particular victim has a breakdown and decides that he doesn't want it to happen again -- and proceeds to take the law in his own hands, with some horrible consequences. There is also a simultaneous storyline taking place in the prison from which Lund escaped, and both stories eventually weave together in a most gut-wrenching way. 

This is the first book in a series by Roslund and Hellstrom, just prior to Box 21. Once you begin reading it, you'll discover that this book is not so much a mystery or crime novel, but that it is actually about the nature and meaning of justice.  Although it is very gritty and incredibly tough to read due to its subject matter, this is a book that will make you pause and think. It is not your average police procedural -- the authors have a definite message here. Although set in Sweden, trust me -- this could most definitely happen here.  I would definitely recommend it to readers of Scandinavian crime fiction. 


  1. I need to read this one, your review sort of feels like you are throwing down a gauntlet. (in a good way)

  2. It was really so hard to read. I loved this book, but it took a lot out of me. Does that sound stupid?


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