The problem with a lot of thrillers is that the main characters seem to exist in a world in which thriller novels don't exist, so suspicious actions that send off loud alarm bells in the average reader's mind are invariably rationalized or ignored by the protagonists. So it is in this by-the-numbers tale, in which Annika Bengtzon, crime editor for the Stockholm tabloid Kvällspressen, investigates the bombing of the Olympic venue at Victoria Stadium, where the body of Christina Furhage, head of the committee organizing the Stockholm Games, has been literally blown to bits. Balancing the demands of her family and those of her job, pumping her police contact for information and trying to decide how much of it to publish while barely holding her own in the petty squabbles that flare up daily in the newsroom, Annika digs into Christina's past to find death threats, a hidden marriage and the underhanded way in which she got her job. And when a second bomb goes off, you can bet that Annika will be targeted by the killer, whom readers will have no problem recognizing. The translation by Kajsa von Hofsten is smooth and precise, and while there's an interesting examination of what women like Christina and Annika go through in a world run by men, it's undercut by backlash—if the female characters aren't neglecting their families or snapping at their children, they're insane. And while Marklund draws an accurate picture of the pressures and responsibilities of a reporter's job and life, except for the Stockholm setting and a series of unattributed first-person essays whose provenance is deliberately misleading, there's little that makes this Swedish bestseller special. (May)
Forecast: This international hot property is already a bestseller in Denmark, Finland and Norway, and will soon appear in Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan and Spain; international film rights have been optioned by Sweetwater. But despite European raves, the title may get lost in the shuffle on this side of the Atlantic.