A secretive and dubious religious sect comes under investigation as one of their young members, a girl on the cusp of puberty, is found dead in the forest, brutally raped and strangled. Adopting to remain silent over the incident rather than defend themselves, the members of The Pure Life - led by their intelligent but perturbing messiah figure, Oscar Yellineck - simultaneously anger and mystify Van Veeteren and the other detectives on the case. What's more, the girl's murder was tipped off by an unidentified woman, whose role becomes doubly perplexing as a string of increasingly horrifying new crimes defies everything the police thought they knew about the case and its sequence of events.
"The fashion for imported crime fiction is still booming with the Swede Hakan Nesser one of its most successful models." (Literary Review)
"A satisfying novel from a rising Swedish star.... Van Veeteran [the detective], disengaged, thinking of retirement and wonderfully enigmatic, makes an enjoyable change from all those fictional police men who persist in taken their work home with disastrous consequences, and the slow pace - there's more introspection here than action - results in an intense read. (Guardian Review)
"The atmosphere of the small town, the mysterious fringes of the forest full of aspens and blueberries, are evocatively drawn. So is that particular contribution to Sweden to crime fiction: the contrast between the light summer nights and metaphorical darkness.... The clarity of Nesser's vision, the inner problems of good and evil with which Van Veeteran struggles, recall the film of Bergman." (The Independent)
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