Jo Nesbo meets Homeland in this sophisticated debut literary thriller about a Swedish security force agent sent to the U.S. for a special assignment, which delivers a breathtaking global twist on the darkly riveting narrative tradition of Nordic noir.
Ernst Grip of the Swedish security police has no idea why he is being summoned to the U.S. When he lands at a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, his escort, FBI agent Shauna Friedman, asks him to determine whether a prisoner who has been tortured by the CIA is a Swedish citizen.
At the military base, the prisoner, known only as N., refuses to talk. It appears he was involved in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in Topeka, Kansas. The attack was real, but the motivations behind it are not so simple. Evidence points to a group of desperate souls who survived the 2004 Thailand tsunami: a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, a heartbreakingly naïve Pakistani – and a Swede.
Meanwhile, Grip himself is leading a double life. No one in Sweden knows that he is bisexual, passionately in love with an art dealer in New York who is fighting AIDS. Together, the couple will do anything to get him the drugs he needs to survive, a situation that leads Grip into terra incognita.
Robert Karjel is a lieutenant colonel in the Swedish Air Force. His job as a helicopter pilot has taken him all over the world, from peace-keeping in Afghanistan to pirate-hunting in Somalia. (He is the only Swedish pilot who has trained with U.S. Marine Corps and flown its attack helicopters.) He lives with his family outside of Stockholm. The Swede is his first novel published in English.
”'An intriguing, satisfying thriller … a subtle, gripping plot. What makes this thriller stand out is that it is not Nordic noir. There are no gloomy landscapes and melancholy silences. In their place is rapid-fire action, and a serpentine story that bursts off the page like a brush fire” - Daily Mail
”'Inhabits blockbuster thriller territory” - Independent
”'You’ll race through this wonderful debut” - Sun
”'Filled with rich characterization and unforeseeable twists and revelations, this mesmerizing first in a planned series will leave readers gasping for breath” - Publishers Weekly
”'A compelling read” - Entertainment Weekly
”'An unusual and gripping Swedish thriller that constantly surprises with its twists and turns” - The Sydney Morning Herald
”'This is exactly how a thriller should feel, and Robert Karjel constructs it with a fencer’s elegance: one suspects nothing of the underlying effort. But what makes Robert Karjel extraordinary is his language - the style itself, his pointed observations. Karjel is a subtle observer” - Dagens Nyheter
”'The oppressing heat and exotic locations around the world bring a different type of noir: where no one feels safe, yet become a pawn in a game of those with money, power and obsessions” - Crime Review
”'Everything winds together nicely here, using plenty of action and pace, and just enough real-life reflections as well as 'what if' scenarios to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and, as is less often the case in thrillers, wondering about the greyness of right and wrong” - Aust Crime Fiction
”'Loads of suspense complete with knotty twists will continually grasp your attention” - The Discerning Reader