May 02, 12
Read in April, 2012
Liza Marklund was one of the first Swedish authors, after Mankell Henning, that I read. She immediately became a favorite, but was very difficult to find. Now she is a #1 NY Times bestselling author and is printed in the US by Emily Bestler, one of the Simon & Schuster group.
Annika Bengtzon is the headstrong and independent reporter. She has been through difficult times in her past and feels she has a tenuous hold on her present. The printed newspaper she works for, has laid her life on the line for, gives her a sense of identity, is giving way to new media forms, which gives her a sense of instability, along with her boss and co-workers. Her husband had an affair and she cannot forgive him. She has moved into a large house in an upscale suburb, with a hostile neighbor and her son being bullied at his new school. Normal everyday life. Annika must have her investigative reporting to hold herself together.
One of the interesting aspects of this book is the plot woven around the Nobel Peace Prize and Alfred Nobel, the Swedish man who devised the plan for the prize. To set the stage for the plot, Marklund opens the book at the dinner for the Nobel winners and the important people who are invited to the dinner dance after the presentation. Representing her paper, Annika is having a dance with a reporter from the competition, when a woman is shot. The woman looks into Annika’s eyes as she crumples to the floor, dead. Chaos is immediate at on the dance floor, but the story skips to follow the murderer out of the building and through her escape, without telling us who she is or why she killed the woman at the Nobel Prize dinner.
The police arrive and put Annika on a disclosure ban so she cannot report on what happened. The boss who is trying to get rid of her, puts her on indefinite leave of absence. Annika continues to investigate, because she just can’t stop herself.
The Annika Bengtzon books are raw and violent, with non-stop tension. For your own enjoyment, read the books in order – it is worth looking for them. Annika is not always likable, nor are the other characters, but they are real. She is strong, yet feels utterly helpless when her son is bullied. She loves her husband, but is hurt and angry over his betrayal and allows her anger to drive him away. She is straightforward and outspoken, and on the side of the weak, and has no patience for bigotry or snobbery.
Last Will is an interesting read for the information of the Nobel Prize, but the characters are the strong part of this series. You’ll be hooked.