Liza Marklund, Author , trans. from the Swedish by Kajsa von Hofsten. Atria $24 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7434-1786-0

Demonstrating that literary tastes abroad do not necessarily coincide with those of American readers, this second volume of a projected trilogy of thrillers—a bestseller in Europe—plods dutifully from start to finish. This installment is a prequel to the first volume, The Bomber (released in the U.S. last spring), which followed the adventures of Swedish journalist Annika Bengtzon. Eight years before her Bomber adventures, Annika is a novice reporter for the fictional Stockholm tabloid, Kvällspressen. Assigned to screening crank phone calls on the tip line in hopes of getting an occasional valid news break, Annika receives an anonymous tip about the nude corpse of a young girl in a public park. Sent with a photographer and an experienced reporter to follow up, she is rewarded with the admiration of her editors for her reporting but falls victim to the envy of the regular staff for her success. As the plot develops, the focus of the investigation shifts from the victim's lover, the owner of the upscale sex club where she worked, to an important government minister who keeps a secret apartment near the park. Delving into the bureaucrat's alibi, Annika discovers that he is somehow involved in the coverup of the reappearance of a missing archive that could shake the foundation of the ruling Social Democrats. Annika dons a G-string and goes undercover; a murky diary details sexual obsession; but repetition and minutiae weaken a plot fairly begging for resolution. The novel's pacing leaves much to be desired for American readers used to snappier action, and Marklund fails to supply substance in the form of serious character development or literary styling. (Aug. 6)

Reviewed on: 07/29/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-7434-1788-4
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