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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your standard Scandi crime thriller.........
.....as it takes place in multiple locations - Middle East, Belgium, France & Sweden, with the different threads wound together in a climax in the Swedish archipelago.
The story is told from a number of different perspectives, often changing on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so, if you don't enjoy this writing style, be warned!
The author has a well-rounded, fluid...
Published 8 months ago by SteveN

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All style over substance, and not triumphantly so
A thriller about 'enhanced interrogation' in the War Against Terror... I think. The novel centres around one of those plucky heroines that only exist in thrillers - an attractive professional woman who turns out to have nerves of steel when pushed into extreme peril. It also has one of those annoying plot developments where it establishes the villains as a...
Published 6 months ago by NJL1974


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your standard Scandi crime thriller........., 2 Sept. 2014
By 
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
.....as it takes place in multiple locations - Middle East, Belgium, France & Sweden, with the different threads wound together in a climax in the Swedish archipelago.
The story is told from a number of different perspectives, often changing on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so, if you don't enjoy this writing style, be warned!
The author has a well-rounded, fluid writing style and maintains the tension well. I think you have to suspend your disbelief in so many "page-turners" these days with authors desperate to find an original plot, but this is a believable contemporary storyline, well-told and the characters are developed intelligently.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and read it very quickly, always looking forward to picking it up again once put down.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking thriller, 30 Aug. 2014
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
The Swimmer is a gripping, impressive and fast paced debut from Joakim Zander. The complex plot grabs from the literally explosive opening scenes in a sweeping narrative which moves skilfully between a number of characters and plot lines, ultimately drawing all together in a truly dramatic denouement.

It's difficult to give a plot resume without divulging too much detail, but this story really does have it all. A CIA agent on a desperate mission to save someone he doesn't know, black ops involving a rogue organisation, global politics including a strong female, Zara, who works in Brussels and is unwittingly involved in a race to
find out the nature of encrypted material on a laptop.

I was impressed by the strong sense of place. Brussels felt real, as did the remote Scandinavian island locations. Each character is richly detailed and with strong dialogue this is a bang up to the minute thriller. I whipped through this in almost one sitting. It's not a book you can put down easily and with a plot which at times felt horribly real, it's an amazing vehicle to explore themes of guilt, revenge and atonement. A truly cracking read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Around Us The Madness Of Empires Continues, 21 Oct. 2014
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
Damascus, July 1980, a car is blown apart with a young woman inside. A man, with a young baby in his arms, looks in horror, from the window in their flat. He understands this bomb was meant for him, and thus the stories begin.

We move from 1980, in alternating chapters, as told from this man's story, and then in the third person from other's viewpoints. This is a complicated story, involving the CIA, the Swedish Parliament, several law offices throughout Europe, but all involving Klara Walldeen. Klara is the daughter of that man in Damascus, and what puts her in jeopardy involves many others and many other times. As the story evolves we are introduced to George Loow, a Lobbyist for an exclusive PR firm in Brussels; Mahmoud, a PhD candidate, former soldier; Gabriella, a lawyer and friend of Klara's; and various and sundry people in the CIA and other organizations.

This is a fast paced novel, covering much of Europe, but it is convoluted in its timeline. We are not privy to how these myriad of characters interface until the last few chapters. This is a well written and mysterious novel, full of secrets from atrocities in the field to Abu Ghraib. I particularly liked the character of Klara, pulled into the secrecy and mysteries of the past. I am looking forward to the next book by this author.

Recommended. prisrob10-21-14
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Swimmer - unputtdownable!, 8 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
The most compelling book I have read in ages - couldn't put it down. Very topical and a plot that was completely plausible and characters that I really beleived in. Brilliantly put together with all the twists and turns of the plot and every strand was followed through, I highly recommend it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour de Force - A Must Read Novel, 12 Sept. 2014
By 
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
This book really is an exceptional achievement. It is hard to believe it is a first novel. Zander's prose, perfectly translated (into American rather than English) by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, is a joy to read. The characters are expertly drawn. The plot, though complicated at times (because what appear to be two stories are being told and they only come together towards the end) is genuinely gripping. Zander's ability, in particular, to describe fast moving action scenes is astounding. But there is much more to the novel than mere action.

Although the story starts with a bang (literally), it does not continue, for a while, in that vein. Instead, we are gently introduced to Mahmoud Shammosh (a Ph.D student in Sweden) and his former girl friend, Klara Walldeen, a Swedish girl of great beauty now working in Brussels for an MEP. True, the second chapter recounts some strange email messages, which turn out to be of vital importance to the plot, which Mahmoud has been getting, but nothing spectacular happens immediately.

The descriptions of life in the EU quarter of Brussels are all too credible. The parasitic nature of EU bureaucracy and its hangers on is gloriously portrayed. George Loow, the young lobbyist, is a character anyone who has ever had anything to do with modern politics will instantly recognise. He swaggers around Brussels, performing slightly shady tasks for his firm's clients, revelling in the trappings of "success". There are hot young women galore. There are expensive cars, grand restaurants, seedy nightclubs and a certain amount of recreational drugs. George, whose father is understandably disappointed in him, is in his element. But he is weak, not evil. And one can easily share his distress as he finds himself being drawn into something which appears to be a lot worse than merely slightly shady.

But most of our sympathy must be directed to Mahmoud and Klara. For they, too, are, entirely innocently, becoming involved in something which seems to be horribly sinister, and dangerous. Who are the Americans who seem to be stalking them? What do those Americans intend to do to them? And Why? You will get no answers from me. You must read the book to find out.

But what about that first chapter, the one with the bang? it is set in 1980 (Klara and Mahmoud's story takes place in a few weeks leading up to Christmas 2013). The first chapter is written in the first person in the present tense. The author turns out to be an American. He witnesses an awful atrocity. A car is blown up in Damascus. Its occupant is a woman very close to him. As he watches the bomb explode he cradles a very young baby in his arms. Then we move to 2013. But, every now and again, our mysterious American, writing in the first person in the present tense, reappears. What does he have to do with the terrifying events unfolding in late 2013? Again, I shan't tell you. You really do have to read the book.

I genuinely loved this book. I want you all to read it. But, mostly, I want Zander's next novel to be published as soon as possible.

Charles
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All style over substance, and not triumphantly so, 3 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
A thriller about 'enhanced interrogation' in the War Against Terror... I think. The novel centres around one of those plucky heroines that only exist in thrillers - an attractive professional woman who turns out to have nerves of steel when pushed into extreme peril. It also has one of those annoying plot developments where it establishes the villains as a hyper-organised, ultra-professional, omniscient outfit, only for their operatives to be out-witted and thwarted by the plucky amateurs at every turn.

So far, so generic, but what really sets this novel apart from the herd, either for better or worse, is a ludicrously complex narrative style which makes it impossible to know what is going on. Interspersed with the present day action are the memories of a jaded CIA agent, who may have lost his family in a bombing raid in Damascus in 1980. I struggled on in a cloud of confusion and apathy, waiting for the paths of the two stories to cross, and then being spectacularly under-whelmed when they did.

The following quote sums up the book for me: "I think we never do what we say. We never keep our promises. We always end up sacrificing the ones we set out to rescue." Superficially wise, rather poetically written, full of on-message "War is rubbish and torture is bad" cynicism, but ever-so-slightly pretentious and not nearly as clever as it thinks it is...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it., 17 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
Very much NOT my normal type of read, however hooked from the early chapters. Excellent page turner, couldn't put it down till finishing just now. Hugely thought provoking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary political thriller with an oddly cop-out ending, 1 Jan. 2015
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
This is a very contemporary thriller especially pertinent in the wake of the Julian Assange/Wikileaks issue and the more recent CIA torture report released in December 2014. Zander’s story has the kind of democratic ethical edge to it that frequently distinguishes Scandi from American thrillers – and so it’s all the more surprising that the ending, of which I will say no more, is such a cop-out.

This is a fast-paced read with very short chapters switching between five main characters and ranging across Europe with some brief excursions into the Middle East. For all its authenticity, the storytelling tends to be quite long-winded with lots of ‘chase’ chapters replaying the familiar scenario of two amateurs evading professional pursuit and being caught out by not turning off their mobiles, finding hidden tracker devices, stupidly using credit cards etc. – surely we’ve all watched enough Hollywood movies to know better by now?!

Despite the sometimes hoary and predictable plot devices, the writing is slick and the book is imbued with an intelligence not always found in the genre. This asks questions about the political accountability of covert agencies like the CIA, about the relations between democracy and morality: it backs down surprisingly in the unsatisfyingly status quo ending, but at least raises ethical issues that other thrillers bypass.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book. Would recommend it especially if you like ..., 10 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
A really god read. A touch of the Nesbos' but not quite so dark, altho there is more than enough mayhem to keep you interested. The plot has an interesting twist and its well presented but I am not sure that you get to empathise with the main characters because of the little real involvement between the main protagonists. A very good book. Would recommend it especially if you like the northern stuff.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great debut!, 7 July 2014
This review is from: The Swimmer (Hardcover)
I saved this for my summer holidays, but ended up finishing it in one go! This is not your ordinary Nordic Noir, but an intense international thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Highly recommended.
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