The Hand That Trembles by Kjell Eriksson

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The Hand That Trembles by Kjell Eriksson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A high-profile Swedish politician goes to work one day - and doesn't return home: he's disappeared like the proverbial magic trick. Ann Lindell is assigned to the case and she soon discovers two local crimes and there's a niggling feeling that somehow the politician is connected - but how?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749040192

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I read and reviewed recently Eriksson's The Princess of Burundi and was rather disappointed. How will this book shape up? Sven-Arne Persson is an astute politician. He knows when to press the flesh for best effect and also when to turn on the smiles - even if those smiles don't quite reach his eyes. In short, he is a career politician. Calculated. And there's a great line on page 21 which sums him up beautifully - He was a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of county politics ...

Eriksson takes his time to almost lay out Sven-Arne's political CV before us. To impress us and let us know what a decent man he is. Except that he isn't. Or at least, that point is debatable. So, why should a successful man moving up the political ladder, disappear? What's more, he leaves no clue behind. No note or letter to his wife, no explanation left for any of his colleagues. And what a suspenseful situation Eriksson has created and very early on in the book too. Terrific. I couldn't stop reading it. And I was also rather impressed by Eriksson's language, with lines such as It was not an ideological manifesto, but an Orwellian betrayal.

I know I'm not spoiling the story when I tell you that the elusive and mysterious Sven-Arne pops up - in another part of the world. This is mentioned as early as page 27 and then the majority of the rest of the book concentrates on Sven-Arne's new and very different life there. We delve into his background in trying to find out why he decided to flee his country.

He's an educated and intelligent man. He thinks it best to keep a very low profile and live a quiet, modest, almost hermit-like life even although it's now in amongst searing heat, buzzing flies, poverty and overcrowded homes and streets. We're given a taster of his daily routine, a routine which he has adhered to for a number of years now. Then, one day, his new life looks as if it's hit the buffers ...

We see how he attempts to deal with worrying new developments. He has the odd friend or two and thinks that with their help, he can ride out the storm. But can he? Or is it all just wishful thinking? Sven-Arne is an extremely complex character and that's what made him interesting reading for me. Almost compelling at times. A man of strong convictions or simply a coward? Eriksson sets out some nice contrasts in terms of geography. The snowy scenes of provincial Sweden and the teeming streets of another continent.

And once again Ann Lindell is roped in to investigate the missing Swede. She's also assigned two local crimes and as the plot develops there may be a link with all three. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did, especially after my disappointment with Eriksson's The Princess Of Burundi but what a delightful book it turned out to be. Recommended.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell.

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