The Fire Witness can be read as a Standalone.
Out all the Lars Kepler books I have read so far, this had to be the one that hit me straight in my heart and had an emotional impact on me. The Fire Witness is a brutal story that felt too real with regards to the failure of so many moving parts in society, and the horrible reality that young girls come to understand of the inhumane manner in which females are often treated by society and the world.
A young girl has been brutally murdered at a home for troubled girls. Her head smashed in and both her hands covering her face, as one would do when playing the hide and seek game. Another girl is missing and quickly becomes a suspect in the murder of the girl and a caregiver at the home.
Joona Linna whose in some hot water over certain actions he took during a previous operation, is sent to observe. He is not the lead investigator and it is not his case. The case begins to unravel into the darkest parts of the human psych.
I underestimated just how deeply this book would affect me on an emotional level. The plot unfolds in a manner that is both chilling and painful, and there are certain parts of the novel that I read that I found myself getting teary. The simultaneous presence of humanity and lack of it, that is tapped into, took my breath away. Lars Kepler establishes a plot that questions the unimportant manner in which girls and women are treated and more societal defects.
The book explores more than is on the surface, these include the abuse of power, sexual and physical abuse, accountability and child trafficking. There might be recurring themes or issues present, that I discuss in my review of The Hypnotist, a book also written by Lars Kepler. The manner in which they deal with each issue in different books shows the multiple ways in which these issues can manifest and exist in society.
The tone of the novel is gripping and frightening in more ways than one, mirroring the complexity of the story itself. It is action-packed and jarring. Half way through the book I began to suspect who might have killed the girl ,but that did not lessen the blow and punches that came with each chapter, which I enjoyed. I also loved the pacing of the novel and the gripping effect it had on my mind, with the way it was written and translated (The book is translated from Swedish to English) and the division of the chapters.
Although the novel deals with heavy subject matters, the thrilling aspect of the novel is not lost, the thrill and the mystery charge the matters dealt with.Lars Kepler is not in the business of cuddling but that does not mean they twist the knife and leave it there either. They thread humanity and hope within the the story brilliantly.
A significant amount of the characters in the book are not good and they are not bad. The complexity of life and of humans is an aspect included and well-executed by Lars Kepler when constructing their characters. The reality that human beings cannot all round be likable or good or bad, is one of my favourite ways for characters to be written, and some of the characters in this book embody that. There is a focus on understanding people and the human psych, that Lars Kepler explores.
I have the biggest crush on Joona Linna and I could write an entire post on how obsessed and in love I am with him. Detective Inspector Joona Linna is a trouble -maker down to the last letter, but above all he is driven. In this book, we get a little peek into exactly what his demons are and what shakes a man who has seen the worst of humanity in his career. The case gets personal for Joona and I enjoyed getting to know a little more about him in this book. I find comfort in the existence Joona, and if that was the goal, they achieved it.
Lastly the location of the story, Sweden. My interest in the country has grown significantly since I discovered Lars Kepler. The story against the setting of the country is another aspect that makes it so intriguing.
I really enjoyed this book. Well-written and translated, and an interesting story. This book definitely left a mark on me.
You can check out my review of The Hypnotist here.