This week’s much-loved crime novel is something those of us who can’t read Swedish won’t have had a chance to read yet, which does make it an oddly perfect choice for this site. It is the choice of the multilingual Ann who discusses books at Bookwitch (and at Swedish Bookwitch).
I would like to think that this new Swedish thriller, which has yet to be translated into English – but is going to be – will be the next huge success story from the country that gave the world the Millennium trilogy. And I would like to think that Maxine as Petrona would have been among the first ones to read, review and above all, to like it.
Written by Swedish diplomat Andreas Norman, who has so far only produced a little poetry, INTO A RAGING BLAZE is a terrific read. EN RASANDE ELD, as it is in the original, is more thriller than detective story. Like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, it begins with seemingly unconnected things, and the seemingly humdrum routines ‘at home’ at the Foreign Office in Stockholm.
You wouldn’t think that finding out about department meetings or how to request a new office chair for yourself would be interesting. But it’s compelling reading from the first page, and by the time you’ve grown quite fond of FO employee Carina Dymek, her career is in tatters and you swiftly move on to Secret Security Agent Bente Jensen, based in Brussels.
Bente is probably very slightly on the autistic spectrum. She is no Lisbeth Salander, though. Very likeable and very competent, it is she and her secret team who have to work out what’s happened. Did Carina really handle top secret, potentially terrorist, material on purpose, or was she set up? Is her Arab boyfriend Jamal cultivating her to aid him in some sinister plot? Or are they – as they seem to be – simply two nice young people, accidentally caught up in something much bigger?
MI6 are the bad guys here. You need to get used to that. Very efficient, and quite scathing about the naïve Swedes, they really set the ball rolling. And once they have, it’s well nigh impossible to stop it.
So here you have various secret services having to work together, but in reality working against each other. It is very much a page turner, and you get quite paranoid after a while. How can anyone ever be safe from the intrusion of agents the world over?
It’s not great literature, but you don’t need it to be. INTO A RAGING BLAZE is the first of a trilogy featuring Bente Jensen. It was published in Sweden this spring, with the second one due in 2014. English language readers have something fantastic to look forward to.
author: Andreas Norman
original language: Swedish
publication date (UK): not yet (published in Swedish in 2013, Quercus has the worldwide rights)
Ann Giles was born in Sweden but lives in the UK with her British husband. She discusses an eclectic mix of children’s books, crime fiction, and literary works at Bookwitch (and Swedish Bookwitch). In addition to her reviews her author interviews are a treat.