Poor Annika Bengtzon. She’s one of my favourite characters in crime fiction. There’s something compelling about her inability to keep her emotions in check and her disastrous love life has the capacity to keep readers entertained for many more books to come. In The Long Shadow, many of the elements that we’ve come to love from Marklund’s series are here but the change in location, from Sweden to the Costa del Sol in Spain, gives the book a welcome freshness.
A Swedish entrepreneur with a history of dodgy business deals is murdered with the rest of his family in Spain. Information coming through from the Spanish police is scant and Annika is sent by her newspaper to report on the case. Accompanied by an glamorous local interpreter, she soon discovers that one of the family’s teenage children is missing. Annika sets out to track down the teenager but the affluent expat lifestyle hides sinister feuds that stretch from Colombia to Sweden. Annika also finds old cases are connected to the present and, predictably, her love life is once more a complicated tangle.
The Long Shadow has many of the motifs of previous Marklund books. We have a complicated and interweaving narrative involving a murder with political overtones. This is set to the backdrop of Annika’s professional life working on a busy newspaper which is struggling to maintain its circulation figures and her usual domestic turmoil. Marklund has created a character with plenty of depth: someone who despairs at her turbulent domestic situation but recognises her own weaknesses and is immersed in her job which, in effect, comes before anything else.
The Spanish setting works well and we enter the world of Swedish expatriate life. One amusing note is the anti-English element expressed by one expat in particular who bemoans the golf playing, wine swilling life enjoyed by many elderly British residents.
This book is up with Marklund’s best and it could easily be read as a standalone by those unfamiliar with the series. I’m not sure I like the direction that Annika’s life is taking at the end of the novel but hopefully Marklund has something up her sleeve.
Thanks to Transworld for sending me the novel. The translation was by Neil Smith.