Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Andalucian Friend

The Andalucian Friend
Author: Alexander Söderberg
Crown Publishers, 2013
446 pages

OK, I'll admit it: I was attracted to this book because of its title. It just sounds cool, doesn't it? Especially when you imagine Antonio Banderas saying it. Go on. Imagine that. The book is set in Stockholm, though . . . at least for the most part.

As The Andalucian Friend opens, a Swedish nurse named Sophie has befriended one of her hospital patients, a man named Hector Guzman. We soon learn that Hector is the head of an organized crime family who's in a sort of war with a rival organization based in Germany. One by one, we meet some of the people involved on both sides including Aron (who works for Hector and the Spaniards) and Mikhail (who works for the Germans.) And then there's the mysterious independent Jens, an old friend of Sophie's who sort of gets caught between the two groups.

The plot thickens with the introduction of the police investigators: Lars, who develops a creepy fascination with Sophie; the mysterious Anders; and Gunilla, their leader. These are not your typical civil servants. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Are you still with me? Because there are a LOT of characters, and it takes some effort on the part of the reader to keep them all straight. Söderberg does a great job of getting us into their heads. Even when we might not want to go there. The focus is on the characters, not on a specific crime. That makes The Andalucian Friend, well, unique.

The Andalucian Friend didn't end like I was expecting, and it wasn't clear to me if the plan is for this to be a standalone or the first in a series. Know what? I kinda like the not-knowing. I'm keeping my eye on this author, though. You can count on that. :)