cover image The Andalucian Friend

The Andalucian Friend

Alexander Söderberg, trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Crown, $26 (464p)

Söderberg’s excellent debut, the first in a projected trilogy, chronicles a global turf war among Spanish drug runners, German gangsters, Russian hit men, and Swedish cops. Caught up in this chaos is nurse Sophie Brinkmann, whose life since the death of her husband has revolved around her 15-year-old son and her work at a Stockholm hospital. A patient of hers, Hector Guzman, unleashes long-dormant emotions by taking her to restaurants and a poetry reading, as well as by introducing her to his family. Hector, a Spanish publisher, also leads a crime syndicate, which has ties to a transatlantic drug trade and is at war with rival gangs. Sophie becomes the target of Gunilla Strandberg and her unscrupulous squad of police detectives, who will do anything to get at Hector. The jam-packed plot’s big-picture view of politics, business, and an international crime ring illustrates how being surrounded by violence affects individuals. While Sophie is an innocent, she is no pushover. Her inner resolve helps her maneuver in precarious situations. Fans of Nordic thrillers will find much to like. Agent: Leyla Belle Drake, the Salmonsson Agency. (Mar.)