How To Disappear
review by Maryom
A woman is on the run from a killer after two men are shot dead in the container port of Frihamnen near Stockholm. When she contacts the Evening Post newspaper offices, she is put through to copy-editor Annika Bengtzon, who in turn puts her in contact with The Paradise Foundation - an organisation that claims it can make people disappear without trace - offering a lifeline to battered wives or criminals eager to escape their past. Annika's further enquiries into the Foundation start to leave her wondering if it is as altruistic as it first appeared and if referring anyone to them was such a good move. Investigating both the dockside killing and Paradise's credentials leads Annika along a convoluted, dangerous trail and to an encounter that will shape her life.
I read my first Liza Marklund thriller, The Bomber, just before Christmas and was curious to see how Vanished would compare. Some crime/thriller series fall into a repetitive mould with the same-old characters going through the same-old motions time and again. Happily, Marklund has avoided that trap. Vanished is set at an earlier point in time than The Bomber. Annika Bengtzon is down on her luck at this point in her life - leading an almost solitary existence in her crumbling dilapidated flat, working odd hours at the Evening Post, troubled by her family relationships. All in all things are not going well for her. There are hints at her backstory - enough to fill in the gaps but not so much that I wouldn't want to read about it. I was fascinated to see how the Annika Bengtzon character had developed over the time between Vanished and The Bomber. Here she is younger, less confident of herself in both personal and work relationships, but still recognisable as the more mature person she will become. She comes over as a real, living, breathing faults-and-all person and through her Marklund examines issues that affect many lives- difficulties with family, care of the elderly, uncaring work colleagues.
It is, of course, mainly a thriller. Her journalistic instincts for a good story lead Annika into situations that will have you biting your fingernails and reading rapidly to get her out of the fix. Most definitely a book that falls into the 'stay-up-late to find out how it ends' category.
Vanished is published next month - but meanwhile I've seen other Annika Bengtzon thrillers on sale in my local supermarket...
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Corgi/Transworld
Genre - thriller
Buy Vanished from Amazon