Vanished by Liza Marklund

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VanishedVanished by Liza Marklund (Corgi, 2012)

Blurb: At a derelict port in Stockholm, two brutally murdered men are found by a security guard. In the same area a young woman, Aida, is on the run from a deranged gunman.

Meanwhile, journalist Annika Bengtzon is approached by a woman wanting her story published in the Evening Post. She claims to have founded an organization to erase people’s pasts – giving vulnerable individuals a completely new identity. 

Annika helps Aida to get in touch with the foundation. But as she begins to investigate this woman’s story, more bodies turn up and she finds herself getting dangerously close to the truth – that all is not as it seems…

Sometimes, when I hear about the plot of a book or movie or TV program, I think, “wow, I wonder if they’re going to . . .” and I head off on a possible story arc. Sometimes that parallels what the book/movie/TV show does; sometimes it doesn’t. In the case of this book, it didn’t–and as much as I liked this book, unfortunately I felt it could have been a bit better “if only . . .”

This is the second book in the Annika Bengtzon series if you’re reading them in story order (so the story events are chronological). The lead character is well developed by now, and she’s dealing with the aftermath of the events of the first book. This character, and her interactions with other characters, are the book’s strength; she’s an empathetic character and I find her easy to like.

That being said, at 500 pages, the book takes on a lot and doesn’t adequately address it all. There’s the nominal plot, which concerns the Yugoslav mafia in Sweden; but there’s also a new relationship for Annika, which is complicated; the politics of the newspaper she works for; fundamental questions about the role of the welfare state; and questions about the role of a newspaper vis a vis law enforcement. This all kind of dropped off toward the end of the book, and I didn’t find the conclusion to be particularly satisfying. To be fair, though, this is a book about a crime reporter, not someone who’s involved in law enforcement, so the book’s ending is realistic in that regard.

My rating: 3 stars

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