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It is always difficult to decide what makes a book a bestseller. Is it the characters, the setting, the plot, the political scene? Probably it is a combination of all of these, but in recent years the Scandinavian authors seem to have got it right repeatedly. The Brother is no exception. While the main characters, Yasmine and her brother, Fadi, grew up in the slums of Stockholm, the action is international from New York, to Syria, London and Sweden. This novel continues the story begun in The Swimmer, but can be read without the first as all the information is here. The threads follow three main characters: Yasmine, her brother Fadi and Klara. It is not until the final chapters that the full story emerges.
Yasmine promised to protect and care for her brother, but 5 years previously she broke that promise and left for a new life in America. She hears her brother has been killed in Syria and the guilt leads her to ask questions about his death. In seeking answers she discovers that her brother may still be alive and a plot that involves security agencies, Russian diplomats, freedom fighters and street gangs. Corruption at a high level draws in the third main character, Klara. Klara featured in The Swimmer and her story takes place in London. Eventually she tracks the events to Stockholm where the story concludes.
I am a great fan of the Nordic Noir genre. The characters are flawed but well meaning, part information leads to bad decisions but the underlying goodness of humanity seems to come through. Zander has built on the excellent foundations of The Swimmer, to write a gripping tale of international greed and corruption. I can see this book becoming a best seller too, and suspect I will not be the only one waiting for another instalment. (Ed’s note: The Believer is due out internationally in January 2017.)
Reviewed by Kathy Watson
by Joakim Zander
Published by Head of Zeus