🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
When the family of a Swedish sport star is gassed to death during a robbery on the Costa del Sol, the Evening Post sends reporter Annika Bengtzon to cover the story. Meanwhile a reorganisation at the newspaper means that Annika’s colleague Patrik has been promoted to be her new boss. And the appeal is about to be heard for Filip Andersson, a man convicted of murder, apparently in a previous book.
This is a very well written slowburn thriller that takes Nordic crime away from the cold of the north to the sunshine of Spain. Marklund gives a real feel for these ex-pats living in the brash world of the Costa Cocaine, as Patrik wishes to dub it. The story lets us see how the police are failing to stop the drug route through Spain from the hash farms in Morocco and on to the rest of Europe. Annika’s character is well developed and she’s a likeable lead although with the usual confused personal life. She’s not superwoman, thankfully – just a hard-working, professional journalist with a well-defined set of ethics. And we see her as a caring mother to her two young children and struggling to come to terms with the break-up of her marriage.
Many crime novels are part of a series where each book can be read on its own merits. However, this one is very much part of a serial – i.e. the main plot clearly runs on from book to book and this is an instalment rather than a distinct story. Unfortunately this means the book doesn’t work as a standalone. I spent most of my time baffled about characters whose story had obviously begun in the previous books, which I haven’t read; and as all the threads began to come together my lack of knowledge of who had done what and why in previous books meant I hadn’t a clue what was going on. And unfortunately that confusion continued right through to the end. And yet, so much of the book was given over to retelling bits of previous instalments I am left with little desire to backtrack, especially since I now know what has happened to many of the recurring characters. Of course, it’s quite normal for there to be a running story arc in the background, but I’ve never come across another crime novel where the main plot was so dependant on a thorough knowledge of the previous books.
I’m reluctant to mark it down because I’m sure that for people who’ve been following the serial this will be an interesting and enjoyable read. Even with my problems with understanding the plot, there was much that I enjoyed – the quality of the dialogue, the characterisation, the sense of place, Annika’s family life. So 4 stars from me, but I doubt I’ll be reading the past books, since this book contains so many spoilers about them. And while this instalment felt as if it had come to a proper, if rather incomprehensible, conclusion, I wouldn’t be willing to read any future books unless I could be sure that major plot points didn’t rely on the reader knowing about things that happened in the previous books. Shame.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House.