Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Sandman by Lars Kepler

It's the middle of the night, and the snow is blowing in from the sea.

I don't particularly want to review another opening from this author, but this is what landed on my desk, so to speak, so here it is. This is the beginning of some sort of unidentified prologue that is printed in italics, which I find annoying, as if every word is being stressed. The weather cliche is used here to poor effect. The next line introduces a character walking across a bridge. Then we get the third line:

His jeans are stiff with frozen blood.

So a little bit of a problem is introduced here. Yet a couple sentences later we learn that warm blood is trickling down the man's arm. And even later while still on the same page we learn that the man's clothes are flapping around his body - I assume all his clothes except for the stiff jeans? Anyway, we learn this guy has been declared dead, so there is a little hook at the end of this super short prelude.

Chapter 1:

Secure Criminal Psychology Unit
Lowenstromska Hospital

The steel gate closes behind the new doctor with a heavy clang.

After this mundane sentence of a closing door, there is another sentence about the echoing clang. Then a shiver down the spine of the doctor and then some back story about a patient and how long he's been incarcerated before returning to the doctor walking through the facility towards said mental patient.

This opening sets up all right, I suppose. We learn that the doctor is new and where he is, which provides enough material to begin to see how this opening might actually at some point later in the story lead to conflict.

First thing said:

"Jurek Walter must never be alone with any member of staff."

Dialogue that moves plot forward and reveals some character is good. Bonus that this comes early, on the second page of chapter 1.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Finally, the author gets a pass, though, just barely. I think it has to do with the subtitle in chapter 1: Secure Criminal Psychology Unit  and subsequent setting, and not because of a bloodied prologie, which is not that interesting.

Rudy Globird

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