Archive for October 13, 2013

 Annika Bengtzon turns down the offer from Anders Schyman to be lead editor at the Evening Post and finds herself on a rota with Patrik, her new boss, giving her orders. Then a 515i2VGp3SL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_story comes her way as the news agency inform them about a whole family killed by gas used in a break in in Spain. 

‘Every break in uses gas. Gas-detectors are more common than fire-alarms in the villas of Nueva Andalucia.’ 

Annika learns that there is a large Swedish colony on the Costs del Sol, and the murdered family are the Soderstroms. The husband Sebastian was an ex-NHL ice hockey star who ran a tennis club, and the mother Veronica, a corporate lawyer with an office in Gibraltar, and probably some shady clients. When Annika realises that a teenage daughter Suzette was not killed in the gassing  she becomes involved in a difficult search for the missing girl which will take her across two continents

The Long Shadow is a direct sequel to Lifetime and I would advise anyone to read that book immediately before attempting this one. If there is too big a gap you might forget whose who! There are many characters and numerous familial connections with that novel. I wished I had made a chart of all the characters and their relationships because complex and convoluted don’t go far enough to describe a plot full of coincidences.

There are certain features that seem standard in recent Scandinavian crime fiction. There is a massive amount of detail packed into the 568 pages; the reader learns about the European drugs trade, money-laundering and financial crimes, narcotic drugs, naloxone and fatal doses of morphine, how journalists work in Sweden, and how Swedes enjoy the jet set lifestyle in Spain. The Swedish title of The Long Shadow is appropriately “en plats i solen”-A Place in the Sun.

The novel is an easy read because the narrative closely follows Annika’s progress and to enjoy these books you have to like or be interested in Annika Bengtzon. She is however a flawed heroine, egocentric and at times  impossible to work with; her clashes with photographer Lotta are one of the best parts of the story. Liza Marklund’s male characters are unfaithful pathetic creeps or violent villains, and It is sad that Annika has such poor judgement when it comes to her sex partners, and the reader is teased into thinking the unthinkable. Will she take trophy husband Thomas back?

I don’t think this is one of Marklund’s best books but despite the length, the very complex plot, being taken down paths that turn out to be dead ends or themes for future books, and the scattering of anti-Brit comments [which may be Agatha Christie like clues] I enjoyed reading about Annika’s adventures in the sun.

‘One in five households won’t join our little association because of the membership fee, which goes into gardener’s wages, pool maintenance and the satellite television dish. Isn’t that just dreadful?’ She drank some more wine.

‘They’re not welcome here. And guess what?’ She whispered in Annika’s ear: ‘They’re all Brits.’

Racism comes in all shapes and colours, Annika thought.