This was the last (fourth) book I read for the Transworld Group Reading Challenge.
I love a good thriller and I had heard of Liza Marklund (but not read anything by her yet), so I was interested to see what this would be like.
Well, I was not disappointed.
The Bomber: What it is about
Annika Bengtzon is a journalist in Stockholm who is woken in the middle of the night because a bomb has gone off in the Olympic Stadium that is being built in the city. A few days later there is a second explosion.
From the start, Annika is spending all her time on the investigation, and with a persistence you can only expect from a newspaper journalist, she digs deep. However, she does have some eye for decency and will not pursue someone who is incoherent with grief.
With her husband and children demanding to see more of her, and some of her colleagues critical of her, their new female boss, she is having a difficult time. Not to mention that it’s almost Christmas and she hasn’t had time at all to prepare for it.
But when her investigation leads her to dangerous territory, the question is whether she will even be home for Christmas.
The Bomber: What I thought
You know the kind of book where you start reading and think “Hey, yes, this is exactly as I like it”? This is that kind of book. I started reading and I felt at home straight away. While I wasn’t constantly thinking about the book when I was not reading it, as soon as I picked it up again I was happy in my little Bomber world.
I thought the atmosphere was brilliant: a wintery Stockholm, just before Christmas. It was cold, very cold, there was snow, there was sleety rain, there was slushy, melted snow. It was no pleasure to be outside. But Annika Bengtzon takes buses, taxis, and walks through the awful weather, a lot. It gives a melancholy, sad, atmosphere to the book.
Annika herself lives the life of successful women: while at work, she has to rush be in time to pick the kids up from nursery, or has to ask her husband to do it for her. At home, she’s rushing off to work. Neither her work nor her home life seems satisfactory. She has to disappoint people, especially herself, a lot of the time. Everything seems a struggle.
In addition, not all of her colleagues like their new female boss. More out of principle than for who she is, really. That seemed very real. Especially as Annika, like a real woman, doesn’t dare to confront her colleagues and stoically undergoes their behaviour towards her. The result is that their behaviour becomes even worse. Luckily she has a boss who believes in her and looks out for her.
The only drawback was the bomber for me: quite a rambling story (by the bomber) about the reasons behind the attacks. That story wasn’t very interesting or comprehensible, and I’m sure it was meant that way, but it also made the reading less compelling for me.
What I really liked was Annika’s intelligence, following up throw-away comments that people make, that turn out to be quite important. I also liked how professional she is in one sense, and how vulnerable in another. Liza Marklund managed to invent a real-life character that is neither a cliché nor too commonplace to be interesting.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I got this book: from Transworld Publishers (Corgi Books) in their Group Reading Challenge
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 528
First published: 2005 (Swedish: Sprängaren), Corgi Paperback edition November 24th, 2011.