Swedish tabloid reporter Annika Bengtzon investigates the murder of a legendary police detective whose unstable wife has been wrongly charged for the killing. Meanwhile, the brash Annika is investigated for the firebombing of her own house following the departure of her cheating husband.
The murdered cop, David Lindholm, who was shot in the genitals, was a TV celebrity known for his brilliant handling of a hostage crisis. But he was no hero to his wife, Julia, a former cop he subjected to years of psychological abuse. Experts say she suffers from multiple personality disorder, but she swears she saw another woman leave the murder scene after grabbing her now-missing 4-year-old son. Annika, who has two young children of her own, must get them resettled while digging into the Lindholms' shadowy past. Dragged into an alley by thugs who cut her with a knife and threaten to do worse to her kids if she doesn't back off, Annika finds a reluctant ally in a cop, Nina Hoffman, who has been friends with Julia since their days at the police academy but is mysteriously mum about David. The missing boy gets short shrift, and Marklund's use of italicized lines to punch up her characters' inner thoughts is annoying. But the plot is smart and suspenseful. The agreeably flawed Annika's personal story, which avoids clichés even as her husband falls into one in taking up with a beautiful blonde, draws us in. And Marklund knows her journalistic turf: Her rendering of the methods, internal politics and economics of newspapers is spot on.
The best of Marklund's books to be published in the U.S., this work sets readers up for the next installment of the Annika Bengtzon series, A Place in the Sun, with a tantalizing last-minute revelation.