cover image The Messenger Must Die

The Messenger Must Die

Kjell-Olof Bornemark. Dembner Books, $15.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-934878-75-3

This is John le Carre territory, but colder and bleaker and with no real traitors, because ""there is nothing left to betray.'' Greger Tragg, Swedish freelance writer, is a dedicated if jaded communist who has fed top secrets to the East Germans for 30 years. Tragg's source is Alex, a highly placed mole in the Swedish government, whose identity is known only to Tragg. His German spymaster concocts a plan to eliminate Tragg and take over Alex. Tragg and his immediate boss Langer, both ``harbingers of peace,'' counterplot to make enough money in a Swedish-Algerian computer deal to get out of the rat race. Swedish intelligence (SAPO) begins closing in on Tragg just as Alex decides he must rid himself of the journalist. Adding to the convolutions are a mole in French intelligence who may really be a double agent, an ex-CIA man suspicious of the Swedish-Algerian deal and Alex's wife, Tragg's long-time lover. Smooth action, neat characterization and frigid atmosphere lead to a tidily cynical ending that brings cold satisfaction, if not comfort. The novel won the Sherlock Prize in Sweden, where a movie is also in production. (October 27)