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This book made a list that someone shared on Facebook (I think it was from National Public Radio) and so I decided to give it a try.  I'm very glad I did.  I found it compulsively readable, with a good plot and characters, always keeping in mind that it's a thriller.

 

The story revolves around a young woman, her ex-lover, a different man who works with her at the EU offices in Brussels, and a character who tells part of the story in the first person.  Most of the characters are either Swedish or American.  The young woman, her ex-lover, and the man at the EU offices are suddenly and inexplicably in terrible peril and it takes a long time for anyone to figure out why they are being targeted and how to deal with it.  This part of the story was very interesting. The resolution involves a brilliant anti-social 16-year old female hacker, who is from an affluent background in order to distinguish her from Lisbeth Salander, and a bit too much in the way of coincidence, including all of the parties converging on a tiny little island off the coast of Sweden which strains credulity.  But the writing was clear so that I understood all of the action and I found I didn't really mind it the mini-Lisbeth or the improbable final act.  In fact, I found the book was a page-turner at all times, but especially once I passed the halfway mark and figured out how some of the more obscure points fit together.  

 

I was a little anxious about this book because the summary made it seem as if it were going to be pushing an agenda.   As I've said before, I don't like being lectured even if I agree with the agenda-pusher.  

In this case, the book revolves around the terrible abuses that occur when you outsource war to third party "contractors."  I think those dangers are very real and suggest that we should never hire mercenaries.  The targeted parties found out that these mercenaries had tortured their prisoners in horrible ways, with videos and pictures, etc.  They don't spent a lot of time on it, but clearly they are shocked.  What was interesting, though, was what the various parties decided to do with the information about the torture. The official parties wanted to sweep it under the rug because they'd put a stop to that arrangement and felt terrible that these entirely-to-be-expected abuses had occurred.  Interestingly, they convinced the main characters that that was the right approach.  I was surprised by that and I thought it was a clever twist by the author.  It made me wonder what I would have done.

 

 

But don't let all this cryptic spoiler stuff make you think the book is too heavy.  It's not.  It's just a really engaging thriller.

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