THE SWIMMER by Joakim Zander


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An international thriller with the pace and intensity of a Jason Bourne adventure, Zander’s debut follows the intertwining stories of a young Swedish woman and a washed-up American spy.

It’s 1980, and a car bomb detonates in Damascus, killing the mother of a baby girl. Skip ahead three decades: It’s 2013, and Swedish graduate student Mahmoud Shammosh (dissertation topic: “The Privatization of War”) receives an anonymous email requesting a meeting. “I have information that’s of interest to us both,” the note says, followed by an unsettling warning: “Be careful, you’re being watched.” Meanwhile, in Brussels, George Lööw, lobbyist for the world’s biggest PR firm, receives a sinister assignment of his own from a shadowy American company. Among his instructions? Bug the office of a young parliamentary aide named Klara Walldéen—who just happens to be the estranged ex-girlfriend of Mahmoud. Why is George tracking Klara? He’s not sure, just as Mahmoud isn’t sure why he’s being watched, just as Klara isn’t sure why—days later—Mahmoud has suddenly reappeared in her life streaked with blood. But when Mahmoud and Klara find themselves in possession of dangerous information, one thing becomes clear: All three of them have been unwittingly thrust into a world of international conspiracy, and the stakes are life and death. Skillfully moving between the past and the present, from Sweden to Syria to Washington and back again, Zander weaves an increasingly tight web of intrigue and suspense with Klara at the center. And if the novel occasionally veers toward spy-movie clichés, it's quickly reanchored by the strength of its characters. Beyond the blood-pumping chase sequences and requisite shootouts, there is real humanity here.

A compulsively readable page-turner with unexpected heart.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-233724-5
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014


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