2022 is officially here and with the cold, wintery month of January comes The Mirror Man, the latest installment in the Killer Instinct series by Lars Kepler. The eighth book in the series features our protagonist Joona Linna investigating one of the most dark and complex cases yet. A sixteen-year-old named Jenny is kidnapped on her way home from school and taken to a house of horrors where she joins a group of other girls. Five years later, Jenny is found murdered, hanging in a playground. As Joona Linna notices similarities between Jenny’s murder and an alleged suicide years ago, another teenage girl goes missing and Joona realizes he is dealing with a serial killer.
If you love crime fiction and Nordic Noir, this is the series for you! The Killer Instinct novels feature a main detective named Joona Linna who will steal your heart and drag you along as he investigates some of the most chilling crimes. Most of the Kepler novels deal with twisted serial killers and very dark storylines. My tip? Begin the series with book four, The Sandman, and then go from there. Not that the first three aren’t enjoyable, but they can be read as standalone and don’t necessarily connect with one another the way The Sandman, Stalker, The Rabbit Hunter, Lazarus, and The Mirror Man can.
If you’re like me and you’re caught up with this series, here are some recommendations for fans of Lars Kepler. From chilling serial killer stories to new Nordic Noir, this list is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock
Anna Kiel was last seen on camera leaving a crime scene covered in blood in which a lawyer was fatally stabbed. Journalist Heloise Kaldan has begun to receive letters from Anna at the same time that detective Erik Schafer is investigating the murder of a reporter who wrote about Anna’s crime. When Heloise and Erik’s paths cross, they realize there’s a connection between the two women that will force Heloise to face the past she’s been desperately trying to leave behind.
The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas
The Devil’s Corridor is a haunted road that has had unexplained creepy things happen, including the mysterious case involving Olivia Rutherford. Olivia and three friends were driving home when the car crashed and only Olivia was found. Her three friends were never seen again. On the twentieth anniversary of the crash, a journalist arrives in town to cover the case. Shortly after she arrives, she begins to receive threatening letters that imply someone does not want this case solved.
The Ursulina by Brian Freeman
Every town has some urban legend or rumor of a sighting of Bigfoot or a Yeti or Sasquatch. In Black Wolf County, this mystical beast is called the Ursulina. Deputy Rebecca Colder is dealing with more than just folklore as she begins to investigate murders being committed by a serial killer leaving a note behind with each body stating, “I am the Ursulina.”
Hidden in Snow by Viveca Sten
Police officer Hanna Ahlander’s professional and personal lives both just went up in flames, so she’s taking a break at her sister’s lodge at a Swedish ski resort. Shortly after she arrives, a local teenage girl disappears, and Hanna finds herself investigating leading her to land a job at the local police department. As a blizzard approaches the small town and the temperatures drop, Hanna and Detective Inspector Daniel Lindskog find themselves desperate for answers and fearful for what they may find.
The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey
Best friends Heather and Brenda are sharing a deadly secret in Minnesota in 1977. Their friend has just disappeared and is the second girl to do so in a week. She and Brenda saw something recently and are trying to find out if it’s related to the vanishings that the police aren’t taking very seriously. In order to not be the next to disappear, Heather begins her own investigation and finds that behind every door in town, everyone is trying to hide something that could give her answers to these mysterious disappearances.
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Chloe Davis’s world was shattered when her father confessed to the disappearances of six teenage girls who had went missing in their small town. Now, twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist who is about to get married when local teenage girls begin to go missing again. These recent events force Chloe to confront the possibility her father may have been innocent or could have had an accomplice.
The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler
Kepler’s newest book, #8 in the Killer Instinct series, releases March 1, 2022, and continues to follow Detective Joona Linna on the trail of a kidnapper who targets teenage girls and makes their worst nightmares a reality. In this installment, 16-year-old Jenny Lind is kidnapped and taken to a dilapidated house, to join other girls enduring torturous horrors, with all escape attempts foiled by their captor. Fast forward to five years later, when Jenny’s body is found strung up with a winch on a rainy night in a playground. While police search for leads, Detective Linna sees a connection between Jenny’s murder and a death declared a suicide years before. When another teenage girl goes missing, Linna realizes that this serial killer’s spree has only begun.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
After I first read The Sandman, the villain in that novel, Jurek Walter reminded me so much of Hannibal Lecter. Both are complex, brilliant and charming, making them terrifying and dangerous antagonists. FBI trainee Clarice Starling is sent to interview the imprisoned psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal the Cannibal) in hopes that his expertise can help her hunt a serial killer targeting women when the daughter of a senator is abducted.
The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup
This story is so chilling, mesmerizing and cinematic that it could easily be a story by Lars Kepler. If you like the brutal cases with intricate plots like Kepler has to offer, you don’t want to miss out on this one. Two detectives hunt down a serial killer tormenting the streets of Copenhagen, leaving a doll made of chestnuts and matchsticks at each crime scene. When the detectives discover one of the chestnuts has a fingerprint belonging to a young girl who went missing and was presumed murdered a year ago, they begin to question if the man behind bars is truly guilty or if an accomplice is hiding in the shadows.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
If you’re a fan of Nordic Noir, then I’m sure you’ve read this one. The Snowman was my first Nordic Noir read and one of the scariest serial killer books I’ve ever read. Creepy crime fiction is truly at its best when it comes to this terrifying tale. During the first snowfall of the year in Oslo, a young boy wakes up to a macabre scene. His mother has disappeared and a mysterious snowman is in his yard wearing her scarf. Detective Harry Hole is assigned the case and realizes that this isn’t the first woman to go missing on the first snowfall of the year. After receiving a mysterious letter, Hole realizes that there could be a link between whoever is sending him these menacing notes and the missing women and the biggest clue of all is Harry himself.
Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
If you like character-driven crime fiction with realistic cases that will chill you to the core that will keep you up way past your bedtime, then you’re in luck. Blindsighted by Karen Slaughter is the first in the Grant Co. series that is perfect for fans of Lars Kepler. A rapist turned murderer is hunting women in Grant County, Georgia. After finding the first victim, Dr. Sara Linton teams up with her ex-husband and chief of police, Jeffrey Tolliver, to hunt a madman. Not only are they searching for clues as to who this killer could be, but so is Lena Adams—a new female detective whose sister was the first victim.
We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal
A new Nordic Noir story that features a complex and harrowing plot combined with a police procedural storyline, We Know You Remember is the perfect story to add to your TBR if you love Lars Kepler! For the first time in twenty years, Olof Hagstrom is returning home after being found guilty of the rape and murder of a local girl when he was a teenager. When Olof finds his father dead in the shower, police detective Eira Sjodin reports to the scene and the childhood fear she felt when Olof was sent away to a youth home for his crimes comes back to haunt her. As Eira investigates the death of Olof’s father, she wonders if the two cases could be connected.
Hello, Transcriber by Hannah Morrissey
If you like Nordic Noir for the atmospheric aspects and you love to be transported into a harrowing crime fiction story that will hold you hostage until the final chapter, then you’ll love Hello, Transcriber. Hazel Greenlee is a female police transcriber who spends her life listening to the Black Harbor, Wisconsin detectives detail the most grim crimes. When her neighbor confesses to stashing an overdose victims body in a dumpster, the case becomes linked to the Candy Man, the towns most notorious drug dealer. As Hazel becomes enthralled with the lead detective on the case, she explores the towns darkest secrets in hopes of getting inspiration to write a novel that will help her finally escape this town she’s so desperate to get out of. As Hazel becomes more involved with the case, she risks everything to uncover the truth.