The Sandman by Lars Kepler


Author : Lars Keppler
Title : The Sandman
Series : Joona Linna
Pages : 464
Publisher : Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date : March 6, 2018


Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman.

Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek’s capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael’s sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it’s too late–and before he gets inside her head.


This is my first introduction to Lars Kepler, the husband and wife team from Sweden, and their bestselling series featuring Joona Linna. While as far as the investigation goes this can easily be read as a stand-alone, I do think I may have missed out on something vital that stopped me from getting hooked and getting a feel for the character of Joona.

A young man, Mikael, is found wandering late one night. He and his sister went missing thirteen years ago and were thought to have been the victims of a serial killer. Now though, it looks like Michael has managed to escape and he tells the police that his sister is still alive. With the serial killer serving a life sentence in a psychiatric hospital, there seems to be only one way the detectives can solve this case. Someone needs to get close to this notorious man and get him to talk.

I found this to be quite a slow burner and I had a hard time keeping track of the various characters and their titles and jobs, which may be something that might have come more easily to me if I had read the previous three books in the series. There was also a lot of background explaining how we got to a certain point in the story that didn’t quite grab me as I thought it would.

The killer, though. Now that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Jurek Walter, or The Sandman, is an absolutely fascinating and intriguing character. A master manipulator, capable of getting inside your head without you even realising it. I most certainly do not envy anyone who’s forced to spend time with him. It was definitely because of him that I kept reading, wanting to know how things would play out.

From what I can tell, this series is immensely popular, selling millions of copies around the world. Yet, somehow it didn’t quite work for me. Creepy, yes. There is also a brilliant background story to explain Jurek’s motivations and while things did pick up near the end of the book, for me it needed that bit more oomph and a faster pace to it and it sadly just wasn’t for me. Don’t let that put you off though as I’m quite obviously in the minority!

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

The Sandman is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | Wordery | Goodreads

7 thoughts on “The Sandman by Lars Kepler

  1. I really like the sound of the premise especially the bit about going undercover in the psych ward. The villain also sounds really dark and intriguing. Sorry to hear about the pacing though and that the book didn’t meet your expectations. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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