Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Red Wolf

Red Wolf
Author: Liza Marklund
Atria, 2011
400 pages

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it was the cover of Red Wolf that captured my attention. I love it. So, kudos to the designer.

Welcome to the multidimensional world of Stockholm's Annika Bengtzon. Annika's an investigative journalist who writes mostly about terrorism, something she's actually had first-hand experience with. She's also a wife, mother, and best friend, and if you're like me, you'll be wishing she was one of your friends by the time you get halfway through Red Wolf.

While researching an incident that happened on a military base in northern Sweden in the late 1960s, Annika travels to the Norrland town of Luleå to meet with another journalist. Unfortunately, she arrives too late -- the journalist is dead, the victim of a hit and run. Annika soon learns that this was no accident. In fact, it's just the first of a string of murders -- all different, but all sharing similar cryptic clues.

Back home in Stockholm, Annika's husband Thomas is experiencing mid-life crisis. He's a sort of project manager in a boring government agency, and although he loves his family, he's feeling unappreciated and unfulfilled. This leaves him vulnerable to a young coworker who is more than happy to pay him some attention. In the meantime, Annika's best friend Anne is having serious troubles of her own. I won't say more except that one of the strengths of this book is its emphasis on relationships and the behind-the-scenes "non-work" stuff that actually makes the main character who she is.

But this is a crime thriller, with a crooked politician, a scheming business executive, and an old revolutionary who has come back home after many years away. There's a lot of interesting Swedish cultural and political stuff woven into the storyline. Marklund definitely has a strong sense of place which is reflected in Red Wolf. It makes me want to visit Scandinavia and drink lots of coffee.

After I finished reading Red Wolf, I learned that it's not the first in a series, nor is it a standalone novel. It's actually the fifth book featuring Annika. I would have preferred to read them in order, but the truth is, in this case you don't really have to. I'm planning to start from the beginning next time, and as soon as the first book The Bomber is available on Kindle, I'll be buying it.

Gonna read something light next. :-o