Written by Gustaf Skordeman

Review written by Carole Tyrell

Carole Tyrrell worked in the theatre for nearly 10 years and was always fascinating by the way death and the supernatural formed many of the greatest and most enduring works. She has read crime fiction for many years and enjoys the broad range of the genre.

Zaffre Publishing
RRP: £12.99
Released: April 21 2021

Stellan Broman, once the biggest TV star in Sweden, has retired to his study as his grandchildren run riot in the house. He’s been babysitting them for a week and his energetic wife, Agneta (who has done all the hard work).  Now in a few minutes, their two daughters, Lotta and Malin, will come to collect their offspring.

It’s an unexpectedly hot Swedish summer as Stellan, now 85, decides to settle down in his favourite chair with a book while everyone says their goodbyes and gets into their cars. Once known for their legendary parties with the movers and shakers of Sweden’s entertainment and political world, the Bromans lead quieter lives now.

But that is about to change.

As the families finally leave, a call comes on the Bromans landline. Agneta answers and it’s the call that she’s been waiting for all her life. A man with a heavily accented German accent says one word, ‘Geiger’, and she knows what she has to do.

As the cars pull out of the driveway and Agneta waves them goodbye, she hides a pistol behind her.  She’s just shot Stellan in the head with a single shot and she’s become someone else.   But she made one fatal mistake.

In Berlin, Karla Breuer and her partner, Jakob Strauss, know that Geiger has been activated; she has four months to go until retirement but wants to finally catch Abu Rasil, reputedly the most famous and elusive terrorist in the world, before she goes.   No one else believes that he’s still active but she is convinced that he is.  When a bomb goes off under a car near the German town of Hattenbach, is it his handiwork? 

Sara Nowak, a Swedish policewoman with anger issues, is invited onto the investigation into Stellan’s death by a colleague, DI Anna Torhall.  She was a childhood friend of the Broman daughters and may have insider information.   No one knows where Agneta is.  Has she been kidnapped, run away in terror or is lying injured somewhere?  Sarah’s job is staking out prostitutes, pimps and their customers but she remembers her visits to the Bromans as a golden time.  She and her mother, Jane, lived on the Bromans estate where Jane worked as their cleaner until one day, without warning, she and Sara left and went to live in a less salubrious neighbourhood.   Jane never explained why, and Sarah has never forgiven her for it.  But where is Agneta?

Agneta is following her orders as she begins to kill the elderly members of a spy ring.   She was once known as Desiree and wants revenge on the regime that murdered her father.

This is an audacious debut novel with a fiendishly twisty plot.  Nothing and no-one are what they seem as the characters secret lives and identities are slowly revealed. Sarah’s determination to get to the heart of what happened uncovers disturbing and deadly mysteries that go right to the heart of power, not only in Sweden but in Russia and Germany. She realises that the idyllic summers were only a dream and not reality. Kindly Uncle Stellan had his own dark impulses and Jane was part of the darkest one of them all.       

Stellan is unmasked as an ex-Stasi informant who destroyed the lives of many people although he denied it. For some, the Cold War has never ended and there are still network’s of people who have been trained for their entire lives to bring down governments and effect change.   

This is a very fast paced novel and I couldn’t put it down until I had reached the end where there were more surprises awaiting. I was enthralled right from the start, and absolutely gripped all the way through.

The several plot strands converge to a shattering climax where the identity of Geiger is finally revealed. 

Sara is an interesting and complex character whose determination led to the shattering of her happy childhood memories.  Instead of being a friend, she was merely the cleaner’s daughter and only admitted out of sufferance. 

I’m not surprised that this book has been snapped up by a TV company.  It has such a broad canvas with the backdrop of a time that most people thought had vanished with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.


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