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The Swede: A Novel by Robert Karjel
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The Swede: A Novel

by Robert Karjel

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3.5 stars ( )
  RowingRabbit | Aug 17, 2015 |
When this review book arrived it was added to the teetering pile beside the couch, from where it was plucked by my partner on a cold Saturday afternoon, probably because he couldn't be bothered moving too far. Which turned out to be the last movement he made for quite some time. Needless to say he was enthralled enough to tweak my interest.

The territory covered in MY NAME IS N is wide and unexpected. From the 2004 Thailand tsunami a group of people emerge united in their loss, eventually determined to wreak havoc against a bigoted religious leader who uses the tsunami and deaths as an excuse to peddle vile crap. Needless to say it's not too hard to figure out the so called "preacher" that this character is based on, although it is rather hard, under those circumstances, to agree with the label of "Islamist-inspired" as it seems a lot more about "as you sow, so shall you reap".

The plot is complicated enough to mean that reader's will need to pay attention, particularly in the early stages, as the action moves backwards and forwards between events post the tsunami and the story of Ernst Grip, the Swedish security policeman summoned to the US to assist with the identification of a mysterious prisoner held in a high security CIA location - worse it seems than Guantánamo Bay. Exactly why Grip is the man who receives this summons isn't completely clear, nor is it really obvious what he's supposed to be achieving there, but he goes, meets with the prisoner known as N and eventually finds out a lot more than he bargained for.

Eagle-eyed readers of MY NAME IS N may opt to draw some educated conclusions about the possible connections between all of these events, and they could very well be spot-on. Whilst some of the outcomes aren't that difficult to foresee, the pathways getting there are nicely complicated, and frequently unexpected. Even if you do play the guessing game, it's an entertaining read, but if you're not even trying, just going with the flow, there is even more potential for entertainment and surprises.

Along the way there's some interesting storylines - Ernst Grip's double life between New York and Sweden, and the lengths he goes to for love is one thing, but the efforts undertaken by the tsunami effected five are another thing altogether. It might not even be hard to barrack for their efforts, even though some of their methods are violent and extreme.

Robert Karjel, the author of MY NAME IS N, has spent time working with American armed services in his role as a lieutenant colonel in the Swedish Air Force. His commentary on the set-up of clandestine bases, and the extremes of torture seems to be informed not just by experience, but also an outsider's viewpoint. His skewering of the horribleness of somebody blaming the victims after a major natural disaster is spot-on, and makes the motive behind the Kansas attack uncomfortably sympathetic. As the story unfolds there's plenty of doubt left about the identity of N, about the possibility of Grip knowing more or less than he seems, and what the possible reasons are for N's incarceration. 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.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-my-name-n-robert-karjel ( )
  austcrimefiction | Jul 26, 2015 |
Will read any other one from him
  marilynr | Jul 16, 2015 |
Good writing. Definitely some twists I didn't see coming. I hope to see more of "The Swede" soon.

This book has earned a very respectable ( )
  bookstothesky | Jun 17, 2015 |
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Published as 'The Swede' in HB and 'My Name is N' in PB
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062339583, Hardcover)

A sophisticated debut novel about a Swedish security force agent on a mysterious special assignment to the U.S., The Swede fuses the psychological tension of Jo Nesbø’s thrillers with the gripping international intrigue of I Am Pilgrim and Red Sparrow.

Ernst Grip of the Swedish security police has no idea why he’s been dispatched to a remote American military base in the Indian Ocean. Met by FBI agent Shauna Friedman, he learns that the U.S. wants him to determine whether a prisoner they’re holding is a Swedish citizen.

The detainee, known only as “N.," is a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the U.S. heartland. Tortured by the CIA, he refuses to talk. Yet all the evidence points to a cabal of survivors from the devastating 2004 tsunami that struck Thailand: a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, a heartbreakingly naïve Pakistani—and a Swede.

But the prisoner is not the only one harboring dangerous secrets. Grip hides a double life that will lead him into terra incognita, and Friedman, too, is not who she appears to be. In a world ruled by fear, mistrust, and deadly betrayal, these unlikely partners must learn to trust one another if they hope to stay alive.

Drawing on his military and diplomatic experience, Robert Karjel explores the uneasy repercussions of 9/11, illuminating the moral compromises that people—and nations—make in the name of security and survival.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:31:42 -0400)

"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 (and commercially appealing) narrative tradition of Nordic noir"--… (more)

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