An Annika Bengtzon Mystery by Liza Marklund
Review: Over 30 years ago, a plane was destroyed by an outsider at F21, a secure military air base in Luleε. Though no one was ever tried for the crime, blame was quickly assigned by the Swedish authorities to a generic Russian and the matter all but forgotten. But when a journalist investigating the incident is suddenly killed in a hit-and-run accident, crime reporter Annika Bengtzon doesn't think it is a coincidence in Red Wolf, the fifth mystery in this series by Liza Marklund.
Annika travels to Luleε and by chance finds that a young boy was a witness to the hit-and-run. She convinces him to tell the police and he does but within days, he's dead too. Intent on discovering the link between the two deaths, she learns that there was, indeed, a suspect in the sabotage attack on F21 a man code-named Ragnwald, the leader of a radical splinter cell of the Chinese Communist Party that was active in Sweden during the late 1960s and early 1970s but who was never caught. Believing that the group, which had adopted animal names for its members, may be getting back together for some unknown reason though murder clearly seems to be on the agenda Annika sets out to identify them and determine why they have started to become active again.
Red Wolf is a generally enjoyable, if strikingly uneven thriller. The overall plot involving the former terrorists has a credible foundation, is well developed and plays out with some unexpected twists and turns, but getting there requires a circuitous route, and seems to include an extraordinary emphasis on the mundane details of Annika's travels and modes of transportation. Separately, there are numerous detours into individual subplots involving Annika's husband who may be having an affair and her best friend Anne who seems to obsess over this and that and everything else in her life that go on far too long. Granted, the latter are part of what defines Annika as a character and are arguably important to the series as a whole
but Annika herself is stubbornly aloof here, largely unapproachable to the reader. To be fair, there is a half-hearted attempt towards the end to link both subplots, if only tangentially, to the main plot, making relevant, albeit only slightly, their inclusion in the book. Still, a good 100 pages or so could have been shaved off the book by simply eliminating much of this extraneous material.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of Red Wolf for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author
Atria Books (Hardcover), April 2012
ISBN-13: 9781451606928; ISBN-10: 1451606923
Location(s) referenced in Red Wolf: Sweden
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Red Wolf by Liza Marklund An Annika Bengtzon Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: February 2011
List Price: $25.99