Anders Roslund, a prize winning investigative journalist, and Borge Hellstrom, an ex-criminal who works in rehabilitation is a relatively new Swedish crime writing duo. They publish in English under the names Roslund Hellstrom and Roslund & Hellstrom. The Beast is their debut book. It has won Scandinavia’s most prestigious crime-writing award, The Glass Key for Best Crime Novel of the Year. It has also been a bestseller in Scandinavia, primarily Sweden. With their distinctive style, they occupy their own niche in the Swedish crime fiction literature.
The Beast is a greatly disturbing book, not least because it is written as fictionalized fact, but also due to its subject matter. It chronicles the activities of a sadistic, murderous pedophile in considerable detail using graphic and perhaps even brutal language.
A convicted killer who murdered two little girls in a basement in a Swedish town, escapes from prison. Detective Inspector Ewert Grens who handled the case, and interrogated the pedophile, knows that unless they catch him, no children in the area are safe and if he is not found quickly, he will kill again. Despite a manhunt, the pedophile kills and mutilates another child in the town of Strengas – sparking off vigilante hysteria. Among those trying to take the law into their own hands is Frederik Steffansson, the vengeful father of the murdered girl, and the consequences of his actions are catastrophic.
The Beast is a tale of tragedy and revenge that is truly gripping, and all the more horrifying because this kind of thing probably can happen anywhere. The prose is razor-sharp. The action cross-cuts between prison, police and the outside world.
The Beast looks into a warped abyss of the human psyche and discusses a kind of crime that to most of us is one that we fear (if we have children) and are extremely disgusted by. It also illustrates the potentially serious consequences of letting people take the law in their own hands. This is a good book, but it is tough. It is a book you will either like a lot or not like at all. There is no in between with Roslund & Hellstrom’s The Beast.