2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Literary Thriller, 23 Nov 2011
I received this book from Transworld as part of my participation in their Book Club. This is the deal: you choose four free books from their book club range and they send them to you in turn as you review them. The Bomber was my fourth book.
Journalist Annika Bengtzon has recently been appointed as head of crime reporting at the Evening Post in Stockholm when a bomb tears apart the Victoria Stadium, a venue for the forthcoming Olympic games. It's almost Christmas, and Annika is torn between doing her job, not offending her vital police source, looking after her family, and dealing with hostile members of the crime reporting team who'd like nothing better than to drive her out of her role.
Mostly, the narrative follows Annika, but occasionally we get glimpses into the heads of other people in the story. These glimpses were, for me, at once too much and too little. We didn't get to know anyone as well as we know Annika, and it felt most of the time as if the story could do without trying to show us other characters' feelings. Had they been fleshed out more, they might have improved the book. As it was, the narrative would have been smoother and faster-paced without them. To an extent, the book is trying to do two things: be a crime novel with a thrilling search for a mad bomber, and illustrate the life of not just Annika, a woman struggling in what's still a man's world, but of everyone around her. The more literary aims have a tendency to interfere with the needs of the thriller.
That said, this book provides a fascinating insight into the workings of a newspaper. There's a sense throughout that Marklund is on firm ground here: she's writing about what she knows. The call outs, the missed meals, the petty office politics, and the sense that however well you did today, what matters is how well you will do tomorrow. It's rare to read a novel so well grounded in its subject.
Swedish crime fiction is having something of a vogue in the UK at the moment, but this book deserves to be read for itself, not just as part of a trend. I'd definitely be interested in reading more Annika Bengtzon books should they come my way.