The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

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The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Vikki Patis
Reviewed by Vikki Patis
Summary: A fascinating, contemporary debut, full of current issues and wonderful prose.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781859179

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On a remote Swedish island, a little girl, Klara, grows up without a father. Now, twenty years later, she discovers a secret: a secret that powerful men will kill to keep hidden.

The Swimmer begins in 1980, with a bombing in Damascus, and a tragedy that can be felt across decades.

After an explosive start, we are gently introduced to Mahmoud Shammosh, a PhD student in Sweden, Klara Walldeen, a Swedish girl working in Brussels, George Loow, a young lobbyist, and, of course, the swimmer, who wants nothing more than to atone for the past. The characters are intriguing, full of their own secrets, and those of others.

I became very invested in Klara in particular and thoroughly enjoyed her story. Her courage and intelligence, as well as her ability to act quickly in tense situations, drew me to her. I also came to like George and became immersed in his role.

The EU quarter of Brussels is perfectly described, as is the Grand Place, where I've spent time in the past. Zander writes coherently and with fluidity, jumping between several narrators, without losing the rhythm of the story.

This book focuses on contemporary issues, crossing the globe, from remote Sweden to the war-torn Middle East. Zander manages to address these issues with tact and sensitivity while remaining bold.

Without giving too much of the plot away, this political thriller is action-packed and full of excitement. It kept me on edge, and I devoured it within days. An absolute must-read.

For another thriller based in Sweden we can recommend The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell or The Second Deadly Sin: A Rebecka Martinsson Investigation by Asa Larsson. You might also enjoy A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson and Rachel Wilson-Boyles (translator).

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