This is one of the best crime novels I have read in a long time. For me it exceeded the Larsson series everyone loved. It is so well written. There wasn't a single moment when I felt that even one word was extraneous, except maybe when I was confused with the foreign terms but that had nothing to do with the book itself.
The book is set in an unfamiliar place for most Americans, since it takes place mostly in Sweden. Every character has a unique purpose and is developed specifically in a way to define him/her. From the ever-grieving, cantankerous, curmudgeon Ewert Grens who is as rude an anyone can be, to the infiltrator whose behavior and actions are as smooth and courageous as anyone can be, even as he is forced to break the law to complete his assignment, to the cold and calculating handler who treats the infiltrators as things, not human beings, for the most part, I was constantly forced to look at both sides of the coin in the law enforcement and criminal world. I began to seriously question my own ideas of right and wrong.
I was thrilled by this tale of criminal espionage, kept on the edge of my seat, as the underbelly of the corruption in our society is exposed and made naked. The line between criminal and honorable behavior is so blurred that I was constantly wondering and questioning the underpinnings of my own ethical beliefs. After awhile, I didn’t know whom to root for, law enforcement or the law breaker. As I read I questioned the very foundation of all legal systems and the justice system and realized that it was hard to tell in this book, and probably in real life, just what is real and what is fiction even in the real drama of my life. Who is guilty, who is innocent? Both elements of society cross the lines of honorable activity into the realm of the underworld, to serve their own selfish purposes. Even if the end result is meant to be for the good of mankind, I found the behavior outrageous and unacceptable. There has to be a better way.
This book enraged me, but in a good way. It made me think about how I view things as a witness, to some event or other, everyday of my life. I realized that the system keeps the system alive at any expense! We all see what we want to see, what serves our needs. For some, the end justifies the means at all costs and I began to wonder, is the cost ever too great?
The book succeeds in all ways without gratuitous sex. However, it is very violent, but that too, is not gratuitous but absolutely necessary to the development of the plot and the unraveling of the tale. I can't recommend it highly enough to readers who enjoy exciting, crime fiction that walks the tightrope or the balance beam between the real world and the world of nightmares. You will question your own world once you begin.