Liv has a lot of secrets. For her, home is the picturesque town of Ålesund, perched on a fjord in western Norway. One night, in the early-morning embers of a great party in the basement apartment she shares with two friends, Liv is watching TV, high on weed, and sees a python on an Australian nature show. She becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, the baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she feels extremely protective, like a caring mother, and she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally she is safe.
Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben, who angers her mother by asking for a magazine one too many times. Mariam storms off, leaving Iben in the shop and, expecting her young daughter to find her own way home, heads off on a long calming drive. When she returns home in the evening, her husband is relieved to see her but terrified that Iben isn’t also there. Detective Roe Olsvik is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance; he has just turned sixty and is new to the Kristiansund police department. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her—but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.
A biting and constantly shifting tale of family secrets, rebirth, and the legacy of trauma, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliant exploration of the cold-bloodedness of humanity, and the struggle to mend broken lives and families.
“Neither Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), nor Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train), nor Alex Michaelides (The Silent Patient)—to name some well-known examples from the last decade—can measure up to Ulstein . . . This debut is a great discovery . . . A thriller that really stands out.”—Aftenposten (Norway)
“Ulstein has written the best and creepiest Norwegian crime debut in years . . . A novel that stands out due to both its dark, clever and intricate plot as well as the author’s solid insight in the human mind . . . Reptile Memoirs can also be seen as a bildungsroman.”—Adresseavisen (Norway)
“A nerve-wrecking and highly original psychological thriller . . . The book is very hard to put down and if you do the plot will keep playing out in your mind.”—Dagbladet (Norway)
“The narrative has an enormous drive, with surprises in every paragraph. Perfect late summer-entertainment.”—Vi Lâser (“Five Best Books of the Summer”) (Sweden)
“It’s dark, exciting, and nothing like you are made to think. In other words, a really good thriller.”—Aftonbladet (Sweden)