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LEONA by Jenny  Rogneby


The Die Is Cast

by Jenny Rogneby

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-59051-882-3
Publisher: Other Press

The misadventures of Leona Lindberg, cop and criminal.

A bank is robbed by a naked 7-year-old girl, covered in blood, who plays a recorded demand for money and disappears with the cash. Leona Lindberg, a detective in the Violent Crimes Division of Stockholm’s police force, agrees to take the case; in time the reader learns she is the mastermind of the robbery. Married and the mother of two, Leona finds all her roles confining. Though a neurological condition is never specifically named, she is emotionally disconnected from everyone except her children, is a little compulsive about aligning tables and leveling pictures, and was an abused child. Two years earlier she began the process that would release her from “striving to be like other people,” and the planning and execution of this robbery is a step in that process, and thus “the die is cast,” as the subtitle says. It's not hard for Leona to clog the investigation, but a clever reporter has photos of her with the mysterious bank-robbing child, which he uses to blackmail her for information about a story he has an interest in, and his knowledge remains a serious threat to her plans. Leona reveals a poker habit, both online and live, though the descriptions of hands she plays suggest that neither she nor the author are especially skillful. Leona’s son is diagnosed with a condition requiring surgery, but Leona has lost all of her family’s savings. More robberies are committed, and the situation spirals out of control. But by then it’s hard to care very much about Leona’s fate. In effect, Leona is an assemblage of parts: possibly OCD or on the autism spectrum; a victim of childhood abuse; a gambling addict; a wife bored and confined by Swedish middle-class values; a detective stifled by workplace procedures and chauvinism—all of which (except the poker) are convincingly presented, but unlike the good doctor’s assemblage, she never comes alive. There are similar lapses in the plotting. For example, why do bank officials and bystanders not simply scoop up a bloody, naked child and turn her over to the police? In a later robbery she’s rigged up with a phony bomb, which makes such inaction a little more believable. But by then the plans are beyond repair.

Psychology-driven crime drama with a learner's permit.