The horrifically disfigured corpse of an Oslo police officer is found at the scene of a homicide whose trail went cold years before. The butchered officer was involved in the first investigation. It is the anniversary of the death. Within months, two more officers are killed the same way: at the scenes of the unsolved murders they investigated. The newest slayings are especially brutal. The media reaction is frenzied. The police are beginning to believe the murderer is using the hysteria he has created as bait for his next victims. As the bodies mount, so do the suspects: a maniacal child molester thought to have been killed in jail ... a young female police recruit whose eerie intensity may mask darker emotions ... a former police officer, removed from the force against his will ... This should be a case for Harry Hole. But Oslo's most brilliant, most unpredictable police detective is missing. And a severely wounded man lies in a coma at a hospital in the city. There's a police guard outside the room around the clock. The identity of the patient is kept secret.