Friday, March 27, 2020

Review of The Bomber by Liza Marklund (1998, Pocket Books)

A few months before Stockholm is due to host the Olympics a bomb explodes destroying one of the stands. Newly promoted to senior editor on the crime desk at a national tabloid paper, Annika Bengtzon mobilises her team to cover the story with her leading from the front. Using her contacts and shameless chasing leads she manages to get scoops on rival newspapers. But not all of her team are happy with her rapid promotion and seem keen to sabotage her efforts. Moreover, she’s finding it difficult to balance the long hours with her home life and two young children in the days leading up to Christmas. Nonetheless, she’s determined to try and identify The Bomber before anyone else and land the big story.

The Bomber was the first book published in the Annika Bengtzon series (the fourth chronologically) that follows the work of a crime reporter located in Stockholm. In this initial outing, Annika is struggling to balance home life and kids with promotion to head of the crime desk and investigating a major bombing incident at the main Olympic stadium. The story is as much about her trying to juggle the different roles while dealing with difficult colleagues who are undermining and sabotaging her efforts, keeping her husband on side, and coping with the stress, as it is about the investigation into the bombing. Marklund keeps the story and drama moving forward as Bengtzon battles on all fronts and seemingly keeps pace with the police’s efforts to uncover the bomber. It’s clear that she knows her newsrooms and the politics of running newspaper and the mechanics of hunting stories. The storytelling is pretty workman-like and the characterization a little thin at times, though it’s appeal is its plot-driven nature. I wasn’t really convinced about perpetrator or their backstory or the denouement, though the pages kept turning all the way to the end.

No comments: