cover image The Friend

The Friend

Joakim Zander, trans. from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel. Harper, $16.99

At the start of Zander’s thought-provoking standalone sequel to The Swimmer and The Believer, aspiring diplomat Jakob Seger, an intern assigned to the Swedish embassy in Beirut, arrives in Lebanon in August 2015, several months before the nightmarish ISIS attacks in France. At a party, Jakob encounters the alluring Yassim, who says he’s a war photographer. The two begin a passionate affair that becomes all-consuming for Jakob. Three months later in Sweden, recovering alcoholic Klara Waldéen, a former European Parliament political adviser scarred from events in the earlier novels, attends her beloved grandfather’s funeral, where she reunites with her close friend Gabriella, an attorney who has exposed a Russian role in recent Stockholm riots. Eventually, the two narratives—Jakob’s fraught relationship with Yassim, who may be a terrorist, and Klara’s struggle to pull her life together—intersect on a flight across Europe with devastating results. Thriller fans who enjoy flawed, achingly human characters won’t be able to put this one down. Agent: Astri von Arbin Ahlander, Ahlander Agency (Sweden). (June)