Title: Red Wolf
Author: Liz Marklund
Review: This book contains everything I love about Swedish crime fiction. First of all the crimes are realistic based in everyday human emotions. Anotherwords there isn’t some grand scheming mad man with super intelligence out to prove to the world and police that he is smarter than them. He doesn’t purposely tease the powers that be to catch him. I find to much of American crime fiction is dedicated to this type of criminal, and consequently it ends up being boring by trying to be sensationalistic.
Second it features a smart, but flawed hero who through hard work, small steps, and maybe a little luck manages to get to the bottom of the mystery. It lets me, the reader know, that if I just keep chipping away at the crime I could solve it too. It doesn’t take unrealistic skills or powers of deduction, it just takes perseverance. I like that and it keeps me in the story, especially the flaws in the protagonist’s life. It makes them real, less of a superhero.
In Red Wolf our heroine is coming back from her own exposure to crime. She is an investigative reporter and wants to write about serious issues, not the pop culture that is the fixture of many news organizations today. So looking at a 30 year old long forgotten terrorist attack for an anniversary piece her contact dies in a tragic accident. Not taking anything for coincidence she looks into the accident, and finds her first bread crumb.
From there we are taken down a path that slowly builds to a fully involved mystery that crosses the ages and involves terrorism, communism (who knew the Marxist and Maoist didn’t get along?), blackmail, love, and conspiracy. In the end I can say I was still surprised by the conclusion, but it did come down to those basic of all motives; shame and pride. That is a true crime, a crime I can believe in.
Nearly perfect with the only flaw being choppy dialogue. I would put that down to the translation process from Swedish to English. No matter how well done it loses a little of the flow and nuance to be found in the original. I suppose I should stop being lazy and go ahead and learn Swedish, but then I would need to learn Icelandic and Norwegian as well. Maybe next year.
So if you are looking for some great Swedish crime fiction, or just plain good crime fiction period, seek out Red Wolf. This is the third book featuring the heroine Annika, so get all three. Plus I can also recommend Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, both brilliant as well.
Copyright: 2003 (translated 2010)
Quick Review: 4 Stars out of 5.
Why I Read it: Love Scandinavian mystery and always on the lookout for new to me authors.
Where I Obtained the Book: The publisher sent it to me for review.
Synopsis: In the middle of the freezing winter, a journalist is murdered in the northern Swedish town of Lulea. Crime reporter Annika Bengtzon suspects that the killing is linked to an attack against an air base in the late sixties. Against the explicit orders of her boss, Annika continues her investigation of the death, which is soon followed by a series of shocking murders.
Annika quickly finds herself drawn into a spiral of terrorism and violence centered around a small communist group called The Beasts. Meanwhile, her marriage starts to slide, and in the end she is not only determined to find out the truth, but also forced to question her own husband's honesty.
Author Biography: Liza Marklund was born in Pålmark, Sweden on September 9, 1962. She worked as an investigative reporter for ten years and as an editor in print and television news for five years. She currently makes documentaries for television including Take a Little Beating, writes for various newspapers, and writes books. She has written several fiction and nonfiction books including the Annika Bengtzon series and The Postcard Killers with James Patterson. She is also goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and co-owner of Piratförlaget, one of Sweden's most successful publishing houses.