Les habitants de la petite ville d'Elvestad ont été surpris d'apprendre que Gunder Jomann s'est marié en Inde. Le jour où son épouse devait le rejoindre, le corps mutilé d'une jeune femme a été retrouvé près de sa maison. L'inspecteur Konrad Sejer est chargé de l'affaire.
Riktor doesn't like the way the policeman comes straight into the house without knocking. He doesn't like the arrogant way he observes his home.The policeman doesn't tell him why he's there, and Riktor doesn't ask. Because he knows he's guilty of a terrible crime.
Eva is walking by the river with her seven-year-old daughter when they catch sight of a man's body in the water. Eva tells her daughter to wait while she calls the police, but when she reaches the phone box she doesn't call them. Instead she phones her father, and makes no mention of her discovery.
When the body is eventually found, it soon becomes clear to Inspector Sejer and his team that this was no accidental drowning - the man was the victim of a very violent killer. But the trail has gone cold. Until, one night, Eva receives a phone call...