An oddly named but engaging spy thriller translated from the Swedish.
Carina Dymek is a young, midlevel civil servant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm with the job of analyzing European Union security policies. After a meeting in Brussels, a stranger introduces himself as Jean and persuades her to accept a USB memory stick. On it, he explains, is secret information about a proposed European Intelligence Service that would create a European spy organization without the knowledge of elected public officials. Why give it to her? “You have a conscience,” he explains, asking her to read the proposal and leak its contents to the right people. Soon her troubles begin. Her bosses quickly learn that she has the memory stick. They interrogate her about it, but she doesn’t give it up, and they suspend her from her duties. She must locate the mysterious Jean to help clear her name, but that seems impossible. Meanwhile, Bente Jensen of the Swedish Security Service is investigating Carina and her Egyptian boyfriend, Jamal, who authorities believe are up to no good. Are they planning a major terrorist attack? Bente doesn’t think so, but her colleagues do. They intercept an email with an Arabic poem that says, “Their fire will loom before you, kindling desire into a raging blaze.” That sounds like a metaphor for an act of terror, and soon the chase is on to arrest Carina and Jamal. While the novel’s title comes from that quote, it misleads the reader about what the book delivers. Still, there is tension and excitement, with a plot that builds steadily. Bente and Carina are strong and sympathetic women whose interests coincide when a conspiracy unfolds. Bente delivers the best line: “If you’re going to lie then you have to do so truthfully.”
There's plenty to like in this plausible and well-written tale.