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NEVER FUCK UP by Jens Lapidus


by Jens Lapidus ; translated by Astri von Arbin Ahlander

Pub Date: June 18th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-37749-4
Publisher: Pantheon

Amazing. The cleansing violence that swept through Stockholm in Easy Money (2012) has left the city no safer for three misfits who seem incapable of heeding this sequel’s title.

Self-styled commando Niklas Brogren has returned home from paid service to the U.S. government determined to go underground, until an unrecognizable corpse that turns up in the basement of the building where he’s been living with his mother—and watching Taxi Driver a few too many times—turns his mind to a more activist project: finding and executing abusive men. Mahmud el-Askori, mired in debt to a rising star in the Born to Be Hated gang, finds that the price of extricating himself from his obligation is to incur a much graver obligation to Yugoslav crime boss Radovan Kranjic. Police Inspector Thomas Andrén turns in a by-the-numbers report on the dead man in Marie Brogren’s basement and then finds, to his astonishment, that the needle marks he plainly indicated on the victim’s arm are nowhere mentioned in the pathologist’s findings. At first, these three free agents seem to have little to do with each other, but although his prose style often seems based on Action Comics, Lapidus draws their stories together gradually, gradually, with the patience of Dickens. Once Andrén is forced off the case by a combination of anonymous threats, official pressure and the obligatory beatings, he wastes no time going independent and soon links the dead man whose drug use no one wants to know about to Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister whose assassination has never been officially resolved. The case, once reopened, will inevitably ensnare both Niklas and Mahmud, though neither in the roles you might expect.

Outsized, low-minded, mannered (at least in English translation) and often downright tedious. But there’s no doubt that Lapidus creates a dark world that feels, while you’re immersed in it, like the whole world.