The Bomber, by Liza Marklund

A bomb goes off in the Olympic Stadium which has been built to host the games in Sweden. It's assumed to be a terrorist attack, and Annika Bengtzon is the journalist assigned to the story. She quickly comes to believe that the truth is more involved, and determines to get to the bottom of it.

I now see that this is the first of a series about Annika Bengtzon. Or at least it was the first one that was written (subsequent novels cover events earlier than that of the bomb, apparently). I started to suspect this fairly early on in the book, because it's one of those novels where the author, and other characters, keep going on about what a fantastic journalist Anna is, although there's nothing whatsoever that happens in the story to justify this. So I assumed that all the fantastic things she'd done must have happened in other books, because she doesn't seem that great in this one.

I see also that the author is Swedish, which explains why it's set in Sweden. Frankly, I was wondering what the point of the Swedish setting was: there's no Swedish "angle" on the story that I can think of - the only clues to it not being set somewhere like Manchester or London were that everyone has Swedish names, and it's a bit cold. There was nothing interesting about the way the Swedish justice system works, or how the media in Sweden is regulated differently, or anything like that.

It was no surprise to find that Anna eventually meets "The Bomber", and is captured and held prisoner. The Bomber knocks her out, straps explosive to her, and then, when Anna wakes up, spends more than an hour (I was listening to the audiobook, and this went on for more than a complete CD) explaining to Anna (and the rather bored reader) what she's done and why she did it, before killing Anna. But wait! Anna has a mobile phone in her bag, and it turns out that technology allows the phone company to locate her and send in the police just in time!

Something else I just remembered: this book is written mostly in the third person, but in time-honoured serial-killer novel style, there are small sections every so often with a passage in the first person, written by someone who sounds a bit deranged. These were so inconsequential that I forgot all about them as soon as they finished, but I assumed they were the thoughts of "The Bomber". In fact, and this was about the only original thing in the book, they weren't. But they added very little to the story.

Basically, I didn't think much of this book. It was readable enough, but really rather pedestrian, cliched, and dull.

Completed : 05-Mar-2013 (audiobook)

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