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Posted July 29, 2012
By Liza Marklund
English language translation by Neil Smith
Emily Bestler Books/Atria
Hardcover, 399 pp., $25.00
Reviewed by Gloria Feit
This novel, the 6th by this author but only the second published in the US [in addition to one co-written with James Patterson], features Annika Bengtzon, reporter for the Evening Post, one of the main evening papers in Stockholm. The tale opens on a wintry evening in December, as the Nobel Prize festivities are about to begin. In the banquet hall, things suddenly take a shocking turn as shots ring out. One of the first victims is the Israeli co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine, the second a woman who is a member of the Nobel Prize Committee. Three others are also wounded as the shooter, a woman, makes her escape. Who was the main target, and who the collateral damage? If the man, does anti-Semitism come into it, or is it the fact that the work for which he was being honored dealt with controversial stem cell research? If the woman, what could possibly have been the motive?
Annika is more than just ‘present at the scene:’ Not only did the female victim look directly at her as she lay dying on the floor, quite near to Annika, but the woman who shot them made eye contact with her seconds before the shots were fired. As such, she is the key witness for the police, who place a gag order on her immediately. So she has exclusive information, which she cannot use, in the aftermath of which she is placed on six-month suspension from the newspaper, as well as in the sights of the killer, apparently an American assassin known as “the Kitten.”
The title refers to the document prepared by/for Alfred Nobel, bits and pieces of whose life are interspersed, referencing his legacy, both as he saw it and as it has perhaps been perverted.
Annika, married and with two small children, has been somewhat ambivalent about her impending move to a country home, as well as going through rough patches in her marriage. Now she is forced to spend more time at home, with the resulting increased tension there. This is made worse by the fact that her husband, a government employee, is actively working on legislation aimed at, in Annika’s view, at least, “restricting people’s private space with surveillance and more legislation,” a subject apparently dear to the heart of this author [as it is to many others, obviously, now more than ever].
This is an exciting, well-written tale, with intriguing characters, and it is recommended.
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