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on 14 July 2014
Carina Dymek is a career civil servant, aspiring to be a diplomat. Astute, highly intelligent and committed, she’s dedicated to her job and focused on promotion. Perhaps her only fault is a forthright honesty, which is where the trouble starts. After a diplomatic meeting in Brussels, “Jean” approaches her and gives her a USB stick containing a confidential proposal for a European Intelligence Service. Uncertain of what to do, she does the right thing by emailing her superiors asking them to sort out the problem.

What a mistake! Dymek’s actions open a Pandora’s Box out of which come the CIA, British Intelligence and the Swedish Security service. Dymek is flagged up as a leak, a security risk and with a boyfriend called Jamal, even though he’s a career civil servant too, there has to be a terrorist connection! Dymek is then thrust “into a raging blaze” as she becomes a target for out of control intelligence operatives, anxious to neutralise this non existent terrorist threat to make sure that their plans for an unaccountable Europe wide Intelligence Service aren’t derailed. Dymek is helpless in the face of this onslaught and the scene of Dymek’s rendition is truly frightening. I’ll never look at a bucket in the same way again

The story has a slow start, but it’s an utterly plausible book which shows that once doubts are expressed about someone, they gain an unstoppable momentum. It was also interesting to read this book after interviewing Anders De La Motte, who questioned how data and information is widely used and often misused. In this novel, the intelligence services only believe what they want and what suits their agenda, using a narrative based on ill-informed data driven guesswork.

A long time ago a friend told me how he felt grubby after reading an espionage novel. This one is the same and even Bente Jensen, who is the only person with the intelligence and guts to question and challenge what’s happening to Dymek ends up making what I’m sure readers will see as immoral compromises in the name of national security.

Final verdict – a good first time thriller that’s definitely worth reading
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on 26 January 2016
Andreas - I would happily give you five stars. Many authors of thrillers/ espionage/ counterterrorism novels consider it necessary to scatter corpses throught the pages but this story is far more sophisticated, and I see that the one `natural death' is necessary for the story. This is almost a psycho-thriller - complex, many-layered and intelligent. A story to which `smoke and mirrors in the corridors of power' really applies and ... it has a very plausible feel about it. I am really looking forward to your next novel.

Ian - you appear to be British - spellings (e.g. double `l` in cancelled and travelling, 'ou' in labour), European dating (day then month) and phrases ('old codger'- love that one. Haven't come across that phrase for ages, `dressing gown' - I was beginning to think that that had been erased from the language!, and `Believe you me'- a joy to read again). I am delighted to read a proper comparison ..`as cool as..'
It is a great pleasure to read British English rather than American English - there are lots of American authors and lots of English authors who think they need to write American. British English is an endangered species.

Your command of vocabulary and syntax is very good throughout most of the book, which makes the dodgy bits stand out all the more e.g.
- prepositions: I read `I met Green' and `I met with Green.' Which is correct?
- conditional tense: You have both if/ were and if/ was (the former is correct)
- active and passive. You have a report leaking instead of being leaked.
- `obligated'. What on earth is that for? Why turn the noun into an extra verb when you have an existing verb - obliged.
- `prioritise' twice on one page, in one case meaning `to give items a level of importance' and the other 'all the items are of the highest level of importance'. Surely you could differentiate.
Apart from that - keep up the good work!
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on 26 May 2016
The books starts slowly, and I learned more about the workings of the Swedish civil service than I thought I needed to know. After a couple of chapters the book picked up pace, and then things rushed on relentlessly to the last page. It makes uncomfortable reading at times, because the actions of the 'authorities' seem all too credible. A chilling picture of innocent lives devastated following a seemingly minor event. Just like a house fire quietly takes hold unnoticed, but once the flames are fanned into a raging blaze, devastates the home.
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on 11 November 2014
Yet another Scandinavian crime/thriller novel – this one mostly set in Sweden. A Swedish civil servant in the diplomatic service, Carina Dymek, goes to a meeting in Brussels. After the meeting, a man present there gives Carina a flash drive (oho!) concerning proposals to set up an European anti-terrorism unit. Carina gives this to the Justice Ministry on her return to Sweden, whereupon she is suspended from her post for leaking sensitive information. Carina is puzzled by this and then learns that the man at the Brussels meeting has links to a Middle Eastern Islamic terrorism. As they say, the plot thickens deeply, and poor Carina is thrust into a maelstrom of Le Carré-like subterfuge. She does not know whom to trust and thus has to battle against the layers of deception to get at the truth. It is a fascinating story that is definitely worth sticking with after a slowish start.
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on 20 November 2015
An excellent book , very topical , don't let the idea that its a spy story put you off , this is a slick scandi thriller at its sharpest , with as we now expect as its scandi , some brilliant female characters. The British are the bad guys and there are lots of details about the ridiculous red tape of power. I was a little disappointed by the neat ending, would have preferred a little more dark. This should make a great movie.
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on 30 September 2014
Thanks to NetGalley for review copy

This is a hard book to review. In some ways it's a three star read, while in others it's five star.

Firstly the negatives. The translation just isn't great and in places leads to the prose being stilted and halting. While I was given a review copy and some grammatical mistakes are to be expected, I think that this was a more fundamental issue and was not just something a little more editing would fix. The story itself is also just too long. The author could have told his tale in two thirds the length and if he had done so it would have been a sharper and edgier tale.

Then there's an element I was simultaneously happy and unhappy with. The plot takes place within the byzantine world of the EU. Obviously some context is needed here and the author provides it in spades. As somebody generally interested in politics I was fine with this, in fact I feel I learnt something of the inner workings of the European Union, but I imagine many readers would find it a turn off.

Which finally leads me to the positives. Without giving away too many spoilers, the plot itself is strong and mirrors much of what later came out through the Edward Snowden saga about the NSA. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the British intelligence services and felt that the general cynicism and amorality of the intelligence world was pitch perfect. As the author used to work in this field himself it was all too convincing.

I would definitely read more of this author's work but think that next time his publishers need to guide him a little more.

I give this three stars.
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on 28 August 2014
Andreas Norman is a former Swedish diplomat and from reviews I've read elsewhere, the book is accurate to the point where those who know him say you can spot which office he was thinking of such is his credibility with the themes in this book.
And that credibility means that we should be worried about our personal freedoms in the light of terrorism and the often repeated but never explained threats governments tell us we face.
In this novel, an ordinary, hard working civil servant stumbles into a murky wold of espionage and intelligence games after she has a secret document foisted on her. The result is truly frightening, more because we know the author was at the heart of such problems than from the writing. It's a good book but it is too long and the pace sometimes suffers for it. The first 150 pages do little for the actual story but show the intricacies of the EU. Once the plot gets going however, it's a good story with much to credit. Again though, in places it labours and is a little over detailed with pieces that don't add to the tale. Stick with it though as there is much to make you think.
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on 30 August 2014
I thought this was a great book. the background was credible as the author worked in the business. I would compare this to a Le Carre in style.
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on 5 October 2014
The author knows the EU scene and writes an atmospheric thriller which is depressing if true about the machinations of security services in this day and age.A slow start builds to a satisfactory conclusion
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on 25 July 2014
Slow start with lots of detail about the workings of the EU but once it got going it was a good thriller.
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