Today’s the day. It is THE day – the day where I speak in public to people who actually had to pay for the privilege of listening to me. $5 a ticket. I feel ill. I feel like I should have offered an apology with the ticket purchase. I feel unprepared despite abundant preparation. Will the discussion be illecebrous enough to convince attendees to return for part two of the three part series on genetically modified organisms? Did I sleep last night?
However, today I am trying to be positive. We’ll disregard the fact that, on any given day, I believe that there’s nothing you can accomplish with positive thinking that I cannot accomplish with deeply rooted fatalism. So negativity’s out, positivity’s in. And what’s so attractive about today? I’ll tell you. Today I’ve not been shot, stabbed, robbed, attacked, or degraded in any way. Though it’s worth noting that I was once stabbed – quite literally – in the back (clearly I survived). Sophie Brinkmann – widow, nurse, and mother – cannot make such bold statements and all for befriending her patient in the hospital.
The Andalucian Friend finds Sophie becoming close with one of her patients, Hector Guzman. She enjoys his affable, easy manner and his charming smiles. She soon realizes that his smiles hide his sinister misdeeds as leader of an international crime syndicate. Caught in the middle, Sophie desperately needs to escape. To do so, she must use every internal resource she has, and a few she doesn’t, if she intends to navigate the torrid web of moral ambiguity, deranged detectives, and outright turf war.
The Andalucian Friend is part one of a planned trilogy by Swedish author Alexander Söderberg. Naturally it has drawn comparisons to the Millennium trilogy – specifically “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo meets The Sopranos”. While that is not wholly inaccurate, it is neither as charming as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, nor as brutal as The Sopranos, and lacks the intelligence of both. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It’s Scandinavian crime fiction, it’s translated genre fiction, so a certain amount of leniency must be given. In light of that, I found The Andalucian Friend to be an enjoyable debut novel. It’s told from multiple perspectives and, initially, it can be difficult to keep straight the large cast of deplorable, if stereotypical characters. However, the author does provide a character list and as the plot advances, it becomes easier.
Ultimately, the novel is fast paced, ambitious, and appropriately violent (not gratuitous, not gory, just right). Occasionally the story strives to be sophisticated, but comes off as contrived – however, it is worth noting that it features one of the must inept, deeply disturbed characters I’ve read recently (this is a compliment). It’s a lightweight read and a pleasant distraction from the woes of everyday life. While it’s not the best literature I’ve read out of Sweden, I’ll certainly look for book two in the trilogy. 3/5.
Food is only talked about in the vaguest of terms – they had takeaway, they sat down to dinner – no specifics. So, as per usual (and because Sweden does pizza well), I am recommending a Heirloom Tomato Pizza. Conveniently, tomatoes will factor into my discussion of GMOs. And pizza goes well with drinks. It is a distinct possibility that by lecture’s end, I will have earned a drink (you know there will be one quibbler). Let’s not forget it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day as well (I’m Irish), if I feel any need for additional justification. After all, the Spanish have got bullfighting, the French have got cheese and the Irish have got alcoholism.
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.