Roslund, Anders & Hellstrom, Borge - 'The Beast' (translated by Anna Paterson)
From the first chapter, we are introduced to the inner thought processes of the psychopath of the title, as he plans the seduction and murder of two little Swedish girls - both later found abandoned in a basement - bound and tortured.
The perpetrator - Bernt Lund - is eventually caught, and diagnosed as having a 'minor' mental disorder and is imprisoned in a sex offender's unit. Detective Inspector Ewert Grens who handled the case, and interrogated the paedophile, was aghast at the trivial sentence.
When Lund escapes from a prison transit van taking him to hospital he is not surprised, but his fury is indescribable. Lund was in chains, and escorted by two experienced warders but he taunted them until they stopped the van, planning to silence him. He decked the pair of them with his chains and escaped. Grens knows unless they catch him, no children in the area are safe and if he is not found quickly, he will kill again. But when their worst fears come true, before the police could organise for all the infants' schools everywhere to be watched, another child is found murdered and mutilated in the nearby town of Strengnas.
The mounting hysteria in the local community is exacerbated by the anger of media who demand the capture of the beast. The authors heighten the atmosphere considerably with parallel dramas that occur among the men in the local prison, highlighting the judgement of other inmates towards paedophiles. They report the brutal punishments meted out to suspected men during exercise time - reprisals that mysteriously have no witnesses.
Fredrik Steffersson, the father of the murdered girl - slowly becomes unhinged by the slowness of the police in capturing the killer, so he plans his own revenge.
This is a dark and rather frightening book that recounts the disturbing effect on a neighbourhood, when a known psychopathic paedophile is at loose among them. The understandable reaction of fear and violent disgust, is impossible to control by the police, especially when the children are local and the law appears inept. "The Beast" has been shortlisted for Glasnyckeln 2005 (The Glass Key 2005) for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.
Translated from the Swedish by Anna Paterson, THE BEAST will also be available in paperback from Abacus on the 7th September 2006.
Mary Wilde, England