In the not-too-distant future, a group of carefully chosen people spends 48 hours on a remote Swedish island engaged in what at first seems like an exercise but turns into a high-stakes test of survival and betrayal.
It’s 2037, and the world is shockingly different yet terrifyingly the same: there’s been another Cold War, and, at least in the Protectorate of Sweden, loyalty to the all-powerful government is paramount. Anna Francis, recently back from a soul-sucking assignment in remote Kyzyl Kum, is as chilly as a Stockholm winter, a distant mother who leaves her 9-year-old daughter with relatives more often than she sees her. In the well-worn tradition of “just this one last time” that never ends well, she’s approached by the Chairman to participate in the top-secret RAN project, not as an actual member but as a quasi-spy. As if Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None was cross-pollinated with “The Most Dangerous Game,” Anna is charged with observing a small group of hand-selected Swedes for two days on the island of Isola; that is, until she’s meant to fake her own murder and disappear into the walls of the compound to watch how the others respond to the “crime.” One of the participants is Henry Fall, a former colleague for whom she’d developed feelings, though the romance is as dry as the paperwork Anna reads in preparation. Turns out Henry has his own agenda on Isola, one that isn’t wholly clear, though he and Anna are often frustratingly close to the same goal.
Avdic’s debut, while painting an unsettling portrait of our possible future, lacks a compelling main character, and for all the book's calculated plotting, it doesn't add up to a satisfying read.