STOCKHOLM'S crisp mid-winter perfection has been shattered, its pristine snowscape disfigured by a geyser of human blood. In an exclusive outer suburb of the city a woman has been murdered, her body crumpled in a hallway, the head propped upright and staring vacantly towards the millionaire homeowner’s front door.
The building’s only known occupant, Jesper Orre, is missing. The playboy CEO of Scandinavia’s fastest-growing clothing chain, Orre has vanished, presumed to have fled the scene of his crime.
Peter is one of the first police officers deployed to attend, a detective desensitised by constant exposure to the gruesome realities of homicide. His focus is all-consuming – a convenient distraction from the bitterness of a failed marriage and a lack of interest in his teenaged son.
In actual fact it’s Orre’s second disappearance in as many months, although only one person knows of his previous desertion. Wearing an impressive diamond ring on one finger, Emma has been waiting for Orre to share a glass or two of wine with her while toasting their yet-to-be-publicised engagement. He’s never missed so much as a phonecall, let alone his own celebratory dinner; his fiancée is distraught.
At the age of 59, behavioural scientist Hanne is also harbouring a personal secret: the humiliating signs of early-onset dementia. Recruited to assist investigators again after a 10-year hiatus, she uses her newly resurrected career as rebellion against a psychologically undermining husband.
A decade earlier, Hanne – at that stage drafted in as a police consultant for the first time – and Peter worked on another case together: a case with eerie similarities to the current one at Orre’s house. Then, professional collaboration morphed into a disastrous affair that sapped her self-confidence.
Narrated in rotation by Peter, Emma and Hanne, this thriller pivots on chilling parallel existences, unnerving delusions, festering resentment and lifelong regrets.