After returning from three years as a correspondent in Washington, Swedish reporter Annika Bengtzon must contend with the abduction of her husband, Thomas, in East Africa and the discovery of a nursery school mom's body in Stockholm.
Annika has never been through the kind of ordeal she faces here. The circumstances of the woman's death suggest there's a serial killer at work. And the kidnappers are demanding $40 million to spare Thomas, a justice department worker on a delegation to get Kenya to close its border with Somalia. Seeing an opportunity to turn Thomas' abduction into a boost in circulation, Annika's newspaper offers to foot the bill—if she'll file a first-person series on her negotiations with the abductors and her trip to Africa to deliver the ransom. An old journalist friend of hers shows up under false pretenses to get Annika to be a subject in her video report. Meanwhile, Annika's children are wondering who the stranger in her bedroom is. It's Thomas' appealing boss, monitoring the phone—and growing closer to Annika. Marklund fans will find plenty of gripping suspense in the book, which boasts a doozy of a climax. Some mystery readers may be put off by the broad strokes of humor she employs in nailing the desperation of the post-Web newspaper culture and holding Thomas accountable for his philandering ways—even as he is being threatened with dismemberment. But most readers should find the book irresistible. In balancing the sharp shifts in tone, Marklund is masterful.
Annika's ninth adventure is a bravura performance that raises Marklund's game and lifts her above the mystery genre.