MINM Review: The Sandman by Lars Kepler

A breath-holding, heart-stopping thriller, The Sandman is the fourth in the internationally acclaimed Joona Linna series, written by new-to-Mystery in Minutes husband and wife duo "Lars Kepler". With a mysterious and complex plot, iconic and compelling characters, and content that should appeal equally to men and to women, this highly immersive novel can be read as a standalone. 

The Sandman takes place during Swedish winter: a time of blustery snow, subzero wind, water beneath the ice that is dangerously cold, and darkness. Dripping with atmosphere, the story includes a maximum security psychiatric unit, and the potential for all that could go terribly, horribly wrong in that setting. There are also a number of old, spooky, sometimes abandoned and derelict houses, complete with concealed doors and creaky staircases and floorboards, where the power sometimes goes out at the most inopportune times, requiring the use of a flashlight, or candlelight. Is that Joona Linna's shadow on the wall, or is it someone creeping up behind him?

The pace really picks up in the second half of the book, as the reader continues to be confounded by a cunning, manipulative, brutal predator with an M.O. that is like no case that the law-enforcement protagonists - Joona Linna and Saga Bauer - have previously encountered. Make sure to have uninterrupted reading time for the sustained action and suspense of the final 20 percent of this Swedish thriller. You simply will not be able to stop turning the pages!


Violence: Moderate-to-High

Profanity: Moderate

Sexual Content: Moderate

Explicit Language: Mild-to-Moderate

Animal Cruelty: Mild-to-Moderate

Thrilling Action: Moderate-to-High

Red Herrings: Mild-to-Moderate

Twists and Turns: Moderate

Suspense: Moderate-to-High

Plot Development: Moderate-to-High

Character Development: Moderate-to-High

Pages: 464 (Hardcover)


Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy Scandi Crime and Nordic Noir. If you enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you should love this Swedish thriller!
  • Who appreciate strong, tough, courageous, fleshed-out protagonists. Saga Bauer, for example, works for the Security Police and is a marksman and a sniper, an elite-level boxer, and is specially trained in advanced interrogation techniques. She also has a poignant backstory. 
  • Who don't mind a fair amount of violence in their crime fiction. The violence in The Sandman is pretty brutal and seems almost horror-influenced at times, but it is not prolonged, does not feel gratuitous, and would probably only be bothersome to those readers who are highly sensitive to gritty, darker crime fiction.
  • Who don't mind a fair amount of sexual content in their crime fiction.
  • Who appreciate crime fiction with relatively short chapters ("just one more chapter.......").
  • Who enjoy spy fiction, and mystery and crime fiction with undercover agents.
  • Who appreciate highly atmospheric crime and mystery novels, with a great sense of place.
  • Who enjoy crime fiction with thrilling action. The final 20 percent, in particular, is absolutely gripping!

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars


Have you read other works by these authors, either individually, or as Lars Kepler? In celebration of their partnership with a new US publisher, editor, and translator, Lars Kepler and Knopf will be re-releasing the earlier titles in the series, beginning in June 2018, as well as publishing, in the US, the fifth and sixth books in the series. Isn't it wonderful when you find a new series to love?!

Mystery in Minutes would love to hear from you in the comments below!


The Sandman by Lars Kepler book cover image.jpg

Publisher's Blurb:

The #1 internationally best-selling thriller from the author of The Hypnotist tells the chilling story of a manipulative serial killer and the two brilliant police agents who must try to beat him at his own game.

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 had 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.