Easy Money

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From one of Sweden’s most successful criminal defense lawyersand one of the country’s youngest best-selling authorscomes an unflinchingly raw and suspenseful novel about three men caught up in the twisted justice that rules in Stockholm’s underworld.
 
Jorge is a young drug dealer and escaped convict plotting revenge against the men who ratted him out. JW, a student having trouble keeping up appearances with the rich party crowd he’s ...
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Easy Money

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Overview

From one of Sweden’s most successful criminal defense lawyersand one of the country’s youngest best-selling authorscomes an unflinchingly raw and suspenseful novel about three men caught up in the twisted justice that rules in Stockholm’s underworld.
 
Jorge is a young drug dealer and escaped convict plotting revenge against the men who ratted him out. JW, a student having trouble keeping up appearances with the rich party crowd he’s running with, is in desperate need of money. And Mrado, the muscle behind a Yugoslavian mob boss, who cracks fingers with one hand while stroking his daughter’s cheek with the other, is growing tired of doing the dirty work without any reward. As each man attempts to carve out his own niche in a world of coke dealing and organized crime, their paths cross and their lives quickly intertwine. And as the money rolls in faster and faster, and the stakes get higher and higher, they find that both the police and gang members are closing in on their game.
 
Intricately paced and with pitch-perfect dialogue, Easy Money has catapulted Jens Lapidus into the company of Sweden’s most acclaimed crime writers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the searing debut of Swedish criminal defense attorney Lapidus, three lost souls converge along cocaine’s nightmare highway to hell. Fearsome Serbian Mrado, a collector/dealer/hit man for Yugo crime boss Radovan Kranjic, yearns for more visitation rights with his little daughter, Lovisa. Lower-middle-class JW, tormented by the disappearance of his sister, Camilla, uses coke to ingratiate himself with Stockholm’s moneyed flaming youth. Meanwhile, Chilean prison escapee Jorge Salinas Barrio, a walking coke encyclopedia, wants revenge on Mrado and Radovan for sending him up, but he’s also protecting his sister, Paola. Lapidus counterpoints the trio’s individual pursuits of wealth, power, and human dignity with scraps of court testimony, confidential police memos, and newspaper accounts of police offensives against organized crime. This sprawling novel, full of offensive language, exposes moral degradation of every stripe while relentlessly depicting Sweden’s underworld and the reasons it exists and grows. Author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
A best seller in Sweden, this debut novel—the first in a trilogy—from defense attorney Lapidus follows three criminals in Stockholm's drug underworld. College student JW subsidizes evenings in posh clubs by driving an illegal taxi. Looking for a bigger payoff, he starts selling cocaine. Chilean immigrant Jorge is in prison after taking the fall for a Yugoslav gangster. He escapes, but family obligations and thoughts of revenge keep him in the city. Mrado is the Slavic mafioso's henchman, a tough guy who's also a doting dad. These parallel stories take time to develop, but when they intersect the action erupts in high-octane cinematic grandeur (the book inspired a hit Swedish movie, with a Hollywood remake in development). VERDICT The violence and slow-building plot are reminiscent of Stieg Larsson and the duo of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström (Three Seconds), but Lepidus clearly fashions his unsavory protagonists and slangy staccato prose after James Ellroy (who provides a glowing blurb). Accordingly, this latest Swedish import will connect best with those who prefer the grit of noir or street lit. [Three-city tour.]—Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
Three small-timers claw their way to the top of Stockholm's vast cocaine empire, with predictably mixed results. Chilean drug dealer Jorge Salinas Barrio sees no reason why he should serve out his jail time. Mrado Slovovic, the Yugoslavian chief of the city's coat-check protection racket, is hungry for bigger things. Johan Westlund, an impoverished party boy, is plucked from obscurity by Abdulkarim Haij, who thinks he can sell drugs to his better-heeled friends. Once Jorge breaks out of prison, the places he and the other two ill-assorted heroes assume in crime boss Radovan Kranjic's establishment change their dreams into ceaseless scheming. Since extortion, prostitution, drug smuggling and money laundering are something of a zero-sum game, each player can reach the top only by bringing down someone else. And even before Jorge, Mrado and JW become aware of each others' existence, that's exactly what they attempt. There are complications, of course. Mrado keeps fighting his ex-wife's attempts to deny his joint custody of their daughter. The higher JW rises in the hierarchy, the more intently he searches for clues to the disappearance of his sister Camilla four years ago. Jorge, saved from death by JW's offhanded intervention, swears eternal loyalty to him, even though eternal loyalty is unlikely to be rewarded. The rat-a-tat-tat rhythms of Lapidus' prose, in Ahlander's translation, aren't for everyone. Yet the first-time novelist, an attorney who's defended some of the most notorious figures in Sweden's underworld, creates a magnetically rich, murky man's world in which women are mostly chattel, the police remain mostly offstage and nothing is ever personal, just business. Inevitably, however, it's their personal ties and quests that most endanger Jorge, Mrado and JW. The closest models for this sprawling, ambitious debut are gangster movies from Scarface to Mesrine.
From the Publisher
"An intelligent and original thriller that displays as much wit as it does muscle . . . Lapidus skillfully weaves together the narratives of characters from every level of the Swedish criminal underworld . . . [He's] a fantastic writer of action, but he also knows when to leave the guns holstered and build suspense." —The Daily Beast

"[A] searing debut…This sprawling novel, full of offensive language, exposes moral degradation of every stripe while relentlessly depicting Sweden’s underworld and the reasons it exists and grows."
Pubishers Weekly (starred review)

"At last: an epic European thriller to rival the Stieg Larsson books. It's an entirely new criminal world, beautifully rendered—and a wildly thrilling novel."
—James Ellroy

"Jens Lapidus, with his dazzling book, Easy Money, is the new Swedish thriller writer everyone’s been waiting for."
—Reggie Nadelson, author of Londongrad
 
"A solid, rich, and witty page-turner about the criminal world of Stockholm, where cocaine is the prime mover . . . Lapidus shows much literary promise—no one else in Sweden does what he does here."
Sydsvenskan (Sweden)
 
"A raw and rebellious thriller . . . Lapidus’s writing sweeps you along with short, rhythmic sentences that are fast and engaging. [An] utterly captivating read. Sharp and entertaining."
De Morgan (Denmark)
 
"A cornucopia of sex and violence, hookers and pickpockets in a Stockholm both good and bad . . . A staggering gangster novel."
Politiken (Denmark)
 
"A terrific book about the underworld of Stockholm . . . An absolute must-read."
Het Parool (Netherlands)
 
"Without a doubt a debut to take seriously."
Helsingsborgs Dagblad (Sweden)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307377487
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Jens Lapidus is a criminal defense lawyer who represents some of Sweden’s most notorious underworld criminals. He lives in Stockholm with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

Easy Money

A Novel
By Jens Lapidus

Pantheon

Copyright © 2011 Jens Lapidus
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307377487

PROLOGUE
 
They took her alive because she refused to die. Maybe it made them love her even more. That she was always there, that she felt real. But that’s also what they didn’t get, what would be their mistake. That she was alive, thinking, conscious. Plotting their demise.
 
One of her earbuds kept falling out. The sweat made it slippery. She wedged it in at an angle, thought it might stick, stay in place and continue playing music.
 
The iPod Nano bounced in her pocket. She hoped it was safe. No way she could drop it. It was her favorite possession and she didn’t even want to think about the scratches it could get from the gravel on the road.
 
She groped with her hand. No worries: The pockets were deep enough; the iPod was secure.
 
She’d treated herself to the iPod as a birthday present and loaded it with as many songs as it could hold. It was the minimalist design, the brushed green metal, that’d tempted her to buy it. But now it meant something else to her, something more. It gave her peace. Every time she picked up the iPod, it reminded her of these moments of solitude. When the world didn’t force itself on her. When she was left alone.
 
She was listening to Madonna. It was her way of forgetting, running to music and feeling the tension slip away. Burning fat at the same time was obviously a perfect combo.
 
She flowed with the rhythm. Almost ran to the beat of the music. Lifted her left arm a bit higher to check her time on her wristwatch. Every time she went jogging she’d try to break her own record. With the competitive obsession of an athlete, she checked her time, memorized it, and later wrote down the results. The route was a total of four miles. Her best time was thirty- three minutes. During the winter months, she trained only indoors at the gym. Weight machines, treadmills, and StairMasters. During the summer months, she kept going to the gym but traded the treadmill for side roads and gravel paths.
 
She was heading toward Lilla Sjotullsbron, a bridge at the far edge of Djurgarden, a park on the fringe of Stockholm’s inner city. A chill rose from the water. It was eight o’clock and the spring evening was beginning to give way to dusk. The lights along the path hadn’t yet been lit. The sun that shone on her back no longer gave any warmth. She was chasing her own long shadow and thought that soon it would completely disappear. But in a moment, when the path was lit up, her shadow would flicker and change direction in time with the lampposts she passed.
 
The trees were beginning to sprout crisp leaves. Closed buds of whitewood anemones pushed up through the grass beside the path. The banks of the channel were lined with old, dry reeds that’d survived the winter. Flashy villas rose up to the left. The Turkish embassy with its barred windows. Farther up the hill was the Chinese embassy, surrounded by tall iron fencing, surveillance cameras, and warning signs. By the rowing club was a mansion with a yellow picket fence around it. Fifty or so yards farther up was a rectangular home with an outdoor pavilion and a garage that looked like it was built right into the bedrock.
 
Ritzy private houses with sheltered gardens spread out all along the running path. Every time she jogged, she’d check them out, massive hidden villas protected by bushes and fences. She wondered why they tried to appear unassuming when everyone knew only heavy hitters lived in Djurgarden.
 
She passed two girls who kept a high pace. They sported that special Ostermalm look for power walking in the Djurgarden Park: down vests over long- sleeved shirts, yoga pants, and, above all, baseball caps pulled down low. Her own workout outfit was more serious: black Nike Clima- FIT windbreaker and tight running pants. Clothes that breathed. It sounded cliched, but it worked.
 
Memories from that weekend three weeks ago came flashing back again. She tried to push them away and think about the music instead, or concentrate on running. If she focused on making good time around the channel and the Canada geese she had to veer for, maybe she could forget.
 
Madonna was singing in her ears.
 
There was horse shit on the path.
 
They thought they could use her any way they liked. But she was the one using them. That attitude protected her. She was the one who chose what she did and how she felt. To the world at large, they were successful, wealthy, powerful men. Their names appeared on the front pages of the daily business sections, on the stock market tickers, and in the highest income tax brackets. In reality, they were a bunch of pathetic, tragic losers. People who lacked something. People who obviously needed her.
 
Her future was staked out. She’d continue to play along in the charade until the time was right to stop and expose them. And if they didn’t want to be exposed, they’d have to pay. She’d prepared herself, gathered information for months. Lured confessions out of them, hid recording devices under beds, even filmed some of them. Felt like a real FBI agent, except for one difference. Her fear was so much greater. It was a high- stakes game. She knew the rules, and if things went wrong, it could be the end. But it would work. Her plan was to quit when she turned twenty- three. Leave Stockholm for something better, bigger. Cooler.
 
Two young girls, straight-backed, came riding over the first bridge by Djurgardsbrunn Tavern. They still hadn’t seen life with a capital L. The same way she’d been, before she left home. She straightened up, because that was still her goal. To ride with her head held high through Life. She’d make it.
 
A man stood with his dog by the bridge. Spoke into a cell phone while he followed her with his gaze. She was used to it, had been the center of attention since early puberty, and after a boob job at twenty, it’d been like an invasion of constant male staring. She got a kick out of it, but it grossed her out at the same time.
 
The man looked built. He was dressed in a leather jacket and jeans, with a round baseball cap on his head. But something was different about him. He didn’t have that ordinary horndog look in his eyes. On the contrary, his senses seemed elevated, calculated, concentrated. As if it was her he was talking about on the phone.
 
The gravel ended. The road leading to the last bridge, Lilla Sjotullsbron, was paved but riddled with deep cracks. She considered running on the trail that was trudged up in the grass instead. But there were too many Canada geese there. Her enemies.
 
She could hardly make out the bridge anymore. Why weren’t the lights coming on? Didn’t they usually turn on automatically when it got dark? Apparently not tonight.
 
A van was parked with its back toward the bridge.
 
No people in sight.
 
Twenty yards farther up was a luxury villa with a waterfront view. She was familiar with the owner, who’d built the house without a building permit inside an old barn that’d already been on the property. A powerful man.
 
Before she could turn onto the bridge, she noted that the van was parked weirdly close to the gravel path, only a few feet from her as she turned right.
 
The van’s doors swung open. Two men jumped out. She didn’t have time to realize what was happening. A third man came running toward her from behind. Where’d he been a second ago? Was he the man with the dog who’d been watching her? The men from the van grabbed hold of her. Put something over her mouth. She tried to scream, scratch, strike. She gulped for air and became dizzy. There was something in the rag they were holding over her mouth. She threw her body around, yanked at their arms. It didn’t help. They were too big. Built. Brutal.
 
The men pulled her into the van.
 
Her last thought was that she regretted ever having moved to Stockholm.
 
A shit city.

Continues...

Excerpted from Easy Money by Jens Lapidus Copyright © 2011 by Jens Lapidus. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Amazing

    One of the best crime fiction novels i have read. Character an dplot development are superb.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2014

    worth reading, but the voice of the narrator gets kind of old. i

    worth reading, but the voice of the narrator gets kind of old. it is consistently arrogant, which is fine at first, but not 300 pages later.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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