Red Wolf Review
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Here in the States, author Liza Marklund is perhaps best known for teaming up with James Patterson for the globe-trotting thriller, The Postcard Killers. But Marklund has a best-selling reputation in her native Sweden, as well—and it’s not hard to see why.

Red Wolf is Marklund’s fifth crime thriller starring Stockholm journalist Annika Bengtzon. In recent years, Annika has endured her share of both personal and professional hardships—but they’ve left her with a certain amount of freedom in her job at the Evening Post. Lately, she’s become interested in writing about terrorism—both past and present—so when a fellow journalist offers to share some ground-breaking new information on a decades-old unsolved mystery, Annika travels to a northern city to meet with him. When she arrives for their meeting, however, she’s told that the reporter has been killed in a hit-and-run accident.

  
 
As Annika investigates her colleague’s death, she discovers that it wasn’t an accident. And her investigation leads to some shocking surprises about a long-hidden group of terrorists.

Meanwhile, back in Stockholm, Annika’s husband, Thomas, finds himself working closely with a beautiful colleague—one who’s everything that Annika isn’t. And he finds himself tempted to trade his frenzied life with his wife for something simpler.

If you’ve missed the previous four Annika Bengtzon mysteries (as I have), it will most likely take you a while to get into the story of Red Wolf. Marklund doesn’t spend a whole lot of time introducing the characters or recapping their stories, so you’ll just have to try to catch up—and there’s obviously quite a bit to catch up on. But while that might pose a challenge to newcomers, it says a lot about the series and its characters. This isn’t just a series of random little mysteries; it’s a series of stories that have a significant impact on those involved. Annika’s life is the way it is because of her past experiences. Earlier stories in the series have affected her job, her personality, and her family life—and that makes her a realistically complex character. Even though it will take a while for newcomers to the series to get a feel for Annika’s past—and how it’s affected her—the payoff is substantial. Once you get to know her, you’ll feel like she’s a real person with real challenges, facing real dangers.

Still, the mystery in Red Wolf poses its share of additional challenges. The story involves communist revolts in the ‘60s, and it’s also connected to present-day politics. It’s a fascinating story—one that’s carefully crafted and well-written—but readers who aren’t familiar with the workings of Swedish government might get a bit lost in some of the political details.

Even for first-time, non-Swedish readers, though, Red Wolf is still worth the challenge. The action and suspense are skillfully written, and the characters are the kind that learn and grow and change over time—the kind that you’ll want to come back to (and read more about) time and time again.

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