Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Pages: 500
Date: 24/01/2012
Grade: 4.5
Details: An Annika Bengtzon Mystery
            Proof copy received from Transworld Books through BookGeeks

In a deserted port in Stockholm, a woman is fleeing for her life from a gunman determined to kill her. When she dives in the freezing water in order to escape, survival is far from certain. The next morning a security guard finds two dead men in the port, and a murder investigation starts.
Journalist Annika Bengtzon, meanwhile, is approached by a woman who says she has founded an organisation specialising in making people completely disappear by erasing their pasts and creating new futures.
Initially Annika is fascinated by what the woman has to tell her, and impressed by the foundation’s work, but on closer inspection things don’t completely add up. In fact, the more Annika studies the claims, the less likely they become. But before Annika is sure that the woman and her foundation are frauds she has advised a young woman to go there for help. A young woman who is very ill and in desperate danger.
Struggling with personal problems, Annika nevertheless continues investigating the Paradise foundation as well as the young woman. And as more people are killed it becomes clear that Annika is on the verge of uncovering a big criminal operation. And putting her own life in danger in the process.

Wow! There is an awful lot going on in this book. Apart from the crimes, there is Annika’s very problematic personal life, the internal politics in the newspaper where she works, social issues in the society at large and the lives of other characters in the story.
For a long time I found myself wondering how all these, apparently separate story-lines could possibly be connected. I shouldn’t have worried though, since Marklund proved herself a master at gradually and organically tying most of the different threads neatly together. And I suspect that the one or two threads that didn’t get finalised in this book will probably be continued in the sequels.

Liza Marklund is a journalist herself and that is clear from the writing. While reading this book I constantly felt that she knew what she was writing about, not only when it came to the newspaper business and politics but also with regard to organised crime, social issues and violence. All these subjects feature in this book and the opinions of the author are clear, yet I never felt that I was being preached to or that they interfered with the pace of the story.
In fact, the story unfolds at a steady and unrelenting pace, forcing the readers onwards, always guessing at what exactly is going on and very eager to find out.

The book doesn’t end with every single question answered or every evil erased, which, in my opinion, makes the book more realistic and better. The real world isn't a place where good always triumphs over evil, where people always make the right decisions or where answers are always clear-cut, and neither is Liza Marklund's. This means that this book gives the reader more than an escapist reading experience, soon to be forgotten. This story and its characters will stay with me for a while and make me look at certain issues from a slightly different perspective, which ultimately is what I hope for every time I pick up a book.
Now that I have discovered Liza Marklund and her books I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

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