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Book review: Vanished

Published: 5:05PM Wednesday April 04, 2012

Crime reporter Annika Bengtzon is back in Vanished (originally published as Paradise), but this is not the deft professional we met in The Bomber; the story takes us back in time several years, to the start of her career and the meeting with her future husband Thomas.

This shift in time confused me as I began to read, but it serves to introduce a different Annika; a victim of domestic abuse, with a shameful secret she is struggling to overcome.

Set in the bustling and demanding editorial offices of a Swedish tabloid, very junior copyeditor Bengtzon takes a call during the night shift from a mysterious woman offering a tantalising story.  She claims to have founded an organization capable of erasing people's pasts - giving vulnerable individuals a new identity and helping them to build a new life. Annika is drawn into investigating the Paradise Foundation, finally pleased to be able to write her own article for the Evening Post.

Meanwhile, a powerful hurricane sweeps over Sweden leaving the country in turmoil. Two men are found dead, shot at point-blank range, at one of Stockholm's major ports. A truckload of smuggled goods worth millions of dollars has vanished, and a young woman, Aida, runs for her life from the docks. Annika helps Aida get in touch with Paradise. But several brutal murders follow and as Annika gets closer to the truth, neither Aida nor Paradise are quite what they appear to be.

Woven into the drama is Annika's personal grief; as her beloved grandmother dwindles after a stroke, Annika confronts her past and her family's love. It's sensitively explored by Marklund as she portrays Annika's courageous struggle to hold her life together.

In Marklund's words: "Throughout the series, she is exposed to violence, threats, and kidnappings. And for what? For the ultimate news story."  Vanished is another satisfying read from Scandinavia's undisputed queen of crime fiction - Liza Marklund.

Vanished by Liza Marklund
Random House NZ
RRP $36.99
Available : 5th April