In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets. His victims are two young women, both found with inexplicable puncture wounds. The police are running out of options. Deeply traumatised by a previous investigation, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong's opium dens. But with his father seriously ill, Harry reluctantly agrees to return to Oslo. He has no intention of working on the case, but his instinct takes over when an MP is found brutally murdered. The victims appear completely unconnected, but it's not long before Harry makes a discovery: the women all spent the night in an isolated mountain hostel. And someone is picking off the guests one by one.