The Sandman by Lars Kepler (Book 4, Joona Linna, Saga Bauer)

The Sandman can be read as a Standalone.

The fourth book in the Joona Linna series The Sandman delivers on everything expected of a well-written psychological thriller and provides a gripping and twisty look at serial killing and horrors that lie within the human mind.


On a cold winter day, a young man is spotted walking on a railway line,barely alive. He is taking to the hospital and it is discovered that he is a boy that was declared dead years ago and a victim of serial killer Jurek Walter, who is currently in an isolated wing of a prison, serving a sentence for another crime.

Detective Inspector and the man responsible for apprehending Jurek Walter, Joona Linna is assigned to the case. The boy’s sister is still missing and the only person who knows where she is, is Jurek Walter. With time running out to find the girl, Saga Bauer a security police officer is sent in undercover to get information from Jurek Walter, in order to save the girl.


I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would enjoy The Sandman. I read the first novel The Hypnotist and was absolutely hooked – Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for married Swedish couple Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. The Sandman was my most anticipated book by Lars Kepler after reading the The Hypnotist, and it lived up to my expectations.

This book made my skin crawl from the beginning of the book to the last page. The introduction of the serial killer, alongside the serial killer’s victims is a brilliant start to the book and well constructed.

The Sandman is the book to read if you want to know so much more about my favourite Finnish Detective Inspector Joona Linna as this book is beyond deeply personal for Joona. The book solves a part of the puzzle that is Joona Linna.

Apart from Joona’s personal connection in the book, Time is a concept and a theme woven throughout the story and plays a significant factor. I will not give too much away but time adds to the darkness and haunting aspect of this story.

In good Lars Kepler fashion the concepts of abuse, abuse of power and accountability are a part of this narrative, exploring a different side to these issues than they have in their other books. The presence of these issues increase the skin crawling factor by an overwhelming percentage.

The story is dark, brutal and haunting. The exploration of the serial killer Jurek Walter, I found to be original and unique in discussing the subject of serial killing.

With the layers and complexities of a Lars Kepler narrative comes complex and dynamic characters.

In this book I was introduced to Saga Bauer, key aspect to the case and also to the world created by Lars Kepler. I would dub this book Joona Linna and Saga Bauer, as she is an important factor in the story. She makes an appearance in The Fire Witness,the third book in the Jonna Linna series, but has a more significant presence in The Sandman.

The information on Saga Bauer is enough to make you understand certain aspects of her personality, but just enough to keep you guessing and interested in her. I am looking forward to knowing more about her and how she operates, she is definitely a contrast to Joona, a welcome contrast, but if there is one thing they have in common its their determination and stubbornness.

There were no characters apart from Joona and Saga’s characters that I was drawn to, but characters that I felt a great sense of hatred and disgust towards, there is also a significant amount of character development on Joona Linna which will impact the next book Stalker.

All Lars Kepler books have explicit, violent and graphic language. A Lars Kepler book might not be for you if you do not like or can’t read this type of language, especially The Sandman. It has a cold and emotionless tone and feel to it. It contains a high amount of crass and harsh content that not everyone might be able to read, the inhumane outweighs the humane in this book.

A harsh and unforgiving narrative, The Sandman is in my opinion Lars Kepler’s most terrifying book to date, and also just as intriguing as the other books.

If you are interested in more Lars Kepler books, I have written a review for The Hypnotist (Book 1) and The Fire Witness (Book 3).

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