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Publication Order of Detective Inspector Joona Linna Books

Lars Kepler is a Swedish author who is actually two authors: the husband-and-wife team Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. They published their first novel as Lars Kepler, The Hypnotist, in 2009. They chose the pseudonym Lars Kepler as a tribute to Stieg Larsson, the creator of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and the German scientist Johannes Kepler.

Both the Ahndorils were established writers before they embarked on the Lars Kepler books. Alexander was born in Upplands Vasby, Stockholm in 1967. He wrote his first published piece when he was 22 years old. It was a love story called Den akta kvinnan. Since then, he has written nine novels, screenplays, stage plays and radio scripts. The best-known of his works aside from the Lars Kepler books is The Director (2006), which is a novel about Ingmar Bergman.

Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril was born in 1966 and is of Swedish and Portuguese descent. She grew up on the south coast of Sweden in a town called Helsingborg, but moved to Stockholm in the early 1990s to pursue an acting career. She switched gears roughly ten years later and published her first novel Stjarneborg (Castle of Stars), which was about the astronomer Tycho Brahe, in 2003. Three years later, she published Birgitta and Katarina, which was about Saint Birgitta of Sweden. In 2009, she published Master, a book about August Palm the radical socialist. Alexandra has also written literary criticism for the newspapers Dagens Nyheter and Goteborgs-Posten.

Alexander and Alexandra got married in 1996. They eventually had three daughters.

The Ahndorils had wanted to use a penname for their new series as they viewed choosing a pseudonym as a way of announcing that they would be writing in a different genre and in a different voice. They chose to incorporate a tribute to Stieg Larsson in their penname Lars Kepler to signal they would be writing similarly dark crime fiction. Alexander and Alexandra also wanted to create a “filmic atmosphere” in the Lars Kepler books to make the reader feel as if they are there, watching the action.

The media frenzy that erupted around the publication of The Hypnotist startled the Ahndorils who had expected to keep their shared identity of Lars Kepler a secret. They succeeded in doing so for only a few weeks. In August, 2009, journalists tracked them to their home and confronted them with the fact they had deduced the true identities of Lars Kepler. The next day, Alexander and Alexandra took their daughters and went to Stockholm to meet the media and their fans.

In the Ahndorils’ opinion, crime novels don’t just portray a dark and violent world, they also show the failures of society. A big difference between a crime novel and the real world, though, is that the crime novel usually ends with the perpetrator being brought to justice. Even a dark crime novel can have a happy ending of sorts.

The Androhils believe that Lars Kepler has a life of his own. They had attempted collaborations before, but had always wound up fighting. They have never fought when writing as Lars Kepler, and they describe the process of writing as Lars Kepler as being akin to two people playing the piano together. Some writer teams will write alternate chapters or divide the characters between them. The Androhils don’t do that, but they discuss the plots of their works all the time, so both know what they want to write.


The Hypnotist is the first novel the Ahndorils wrote under the pen name of Lars Kepler, and they published it in 2009. The title character, Erik Maria Bark, is called in by the police to assist with investigating the brutal murder of a family. The only survivor is a severely injured teen-age boy, Joseph Ek, who has no memory of the attack. The police hope that Bark can use his skills to unearth any repressed memories.

The novel introduced Joona Linna, the Chief Inspector from the Swedish Police Force who would become the protagonist of the Lars Kepler series. He is of Swedish and Finnish ancestry and is known for his sometime unconventional methods. In The Hypnotist, for example, recruiting Erik Bark to help with the case is his idea. Linna is tall, taciturn, and has tremendous powers of observation. He also has a tragic past which compels him to seek justice for the victims of crimes.

Erik Maria Bark is a clinical psychiatrist and hypnotist. He suffered a traumatic experience while practicing the latter discipline and had thus vowed to never practice hypnotism again. When he breaks that vow in the Hypnotist, the consequences prove to be horrific. He aids Linna again in The Stalker, the fifth Lars Kepler Book.

Lars Kepler wanted to use a hypnotist because of the intimacy involved in the discipline. Criminal detectives want to get close to the perpetrators and victims of crimes — and a hypnotist can “actually step into people memories.” Kepler turned to Alexander’s older bother for help with writing about the hypnotism, for he is a practicing hypnotist who has written books on the topic.

The Hypnotist was translated into English by Ann Long in 2011. It was also made into an audiobook narrated by Mark Bramhall. In 2012, The Hypnotist was made into a movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Mikael Persbrandt played Bark, Tobias Zilliacus played Linna, and Jonatan Bokman played Josef.

The Paganini Contract, the second Lars Kepler novel, came out in 2010. In it, Linna is confronted with two mysterious deaths. In one case, a man is found hanged in a completely bare apartment. In the other case, a woman has apparently drowned — but her clothes are completely dry. At least one of the cases may involve terrorists, so Linna is unwillingly teamed with a young woman who works for Sapo, the Swedish Security Service.

The Paganini Contract was translated into English by Laura A. Wideburg. In 2012, it was published in the United States under the title of The Nightmare. It was also made into an audiobook narrated by Mark Bramhall.

The Fire Witness, the third Lars Kepler novel, was published in Sweden in 2011. This time, Linna joins forces with Flora Hansen, a practicing medium, to track down a murderer. Laura A. Wideburg translated The Fire Witness into English, and it was published in the United States in 2014.

Lars Kepler has written two other novels, The Sandman (2012) and The Stalker (2014). The Sandman, which pits Linna against a serial killer, was translated into English and published in the United States in 2014.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Lars Kepler

4 Responses to “Lars Kepler”

  1. Sandra C-C: 1 year ago

    Wonderful series and the Stalker is the best kind of Nordic Noir almost as good as Jo Nesbo.

  2. Pat Flannery: 2 years ago

    Just finished Lazarus and have read all the Lars Kepler series to date. The authors writing and plotting has steadily matured as has the violence that is integrated into the novels. I see there is another book in the series now and I must have it!

  3. Pat McNett: 3 years ago

    Started reading “The Hypnotist” and couldn’t put it down. Now read all the books in the series and waiting for a new one.

  4. Pat Schnell: 3 years ago

    Enjoyed the two books I read but did not know it was a series. I saw the new
    book Lazard and read it first and then the Stalker. They both keep you wondering
    what will happen next.


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