Marklund, Liza - 'Borderline' (translated by Neil Smith)
Annika is back from three years in Washington, once again working at the Evening Post in Stockholm, and at the start of the book she is once more reporting on murders. This time, it's the recent discovery of a dead woman on a snowy hillside. Things have changed whilst she's been away and the office has been re-organised, but her colleague Berit is still there, Patrik is still her boss, and Andreas Schyman is still in charge of the newspaper.
Is the dead woman the latest in a series of women who've been murdered? Is there any connection between them? Or is this to do with a case of aggravated harassment by the woman's partner? But before she can really start pursuing the story something happens that changes her world. Her husband Thomas is away in Nairobi, but he's not answering his phone. From the short prologue to the book, the most likely reason is that he and the colleagues he was with on some sort of reconnaissance trip to Liboi, close to the Somali border, have been kidnapped. And then Jimmy Halenius, Thomas's boss, asks to speak to her and she learns the truth.
Alternative sections within chapters develop the story alongside of Thomas's kidnapping, and Annika's response. How Annika has to try to work out what to do, from whether to tell the children, or try to protect them, to whom she should tell, to whom she can trust to help her. How will she find the huge amount money demanded by the hostages for Thomas's release as the Government won't pay? Did the philandering Thomas volunteer to go along, because there was a pretty young, blonde, British woman going on the same trip? This is something else that nags away at Annika as she has to deal with all the ensuing issues of Thomas's kidnapping.
This is an excellent book that convincingly describes Thomas's experience of his kidnapping, how he deals with the violence and fear, and not knowing what will happen next. Annika's own experience as she lives through what turns out to be a life-changing event is also conveyed in harrowing and believable detail, and in particular how Annika's strength of character is key to how she acts. Instead of being the reporter, she is now the one being reported on, and her own newspaper even tries to capitalise on this by asking Annika to give them exclusive rights to her own personal story in exchange for money. The tension builds as Annika sits and waits for phone calls, and news, and her relationship with Jimmy inevitably develops, as he has to camp out in her flat to field phone calls and provide advice. Annika finds out who her real friends are - the ones who will help out, and the ones who won't - and it's not the ones she expects, as the story moves towards a climactic finish. And there is plenty of backstory and character exposition to deepen the main plotline.
BORDERLINE is an engrossing read, that I thoroughly recommend.
Michelle Peckham, England