“Sophie Brinkman, a nurse and single mother, is swept into the midst of a police investigation of an international crime ring and finds her attraction for the ringleader has disastrous consequences.
Sophie becomes acquainted with Hector Guzman while he’s her patient and is beguiled when he later invites her to his birthday party and then a poetry reading. Hector, whose cover is a legitimate publishing house, is embroiled in a turf war with a ruthless German gang.
The budding relationship between Sophie and Hector is seen as an opportunity by Gunilla Strandberg, the head of an equally ruthless police squad, who seeks to make the naïve nurse a source of information, both directly and indirectly (Strandberg has her people bug Sophie’s house).
Though set mainly in Sweden, the novel has a global cast including domestic as well as Spanish, German and Russian gangsters. Greed, brutality and personal agendas seem to motivate a majority of the characters, including the police.
There are some well-drawn characters, including Jens, an old friend of Sophie’s, whose own illegal activities get him drawn into the situation, and a strange drug-addicted cop who views himself as Sophie’s savior.
The story is told from a variety of perspectives, which adds interest to the narrative. There’s plenty of action and plot twists. Soderberg has a background as a scriptwriter and some have compared this first in a projected trilogy as a successor to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. Personally I wouldn’t go that far. Neil Smith, the translator, also has some solid credentials, though it does appear his knowledge of firearms is a bit limited.