Monday, March 25, 2013

Guest Review: The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

Guest Review by Shirley Ayres:

The book liner notes say the book is about Nurse Sophie Brinkmann whose patient, Hector Guzman, a Spaniard from the Andalucian region, starts a friendly relationship with Sophie while he is in the hospital recovering from a broken leg. To me, the most interesting character is Lars Vinge, a Policeman who works for National Crime, a Special Division of the Stockholm, Sweden Police Department. Lars is put on stake out duty following and photographing Sophie, due to her relationship with Hector, a known crime boss. Lars, addicted to pain medicines since childhood, is clean and sober when Sophie is first put under his watchful eye. 

Sophie and Hector start to date once Hector is released from the hospital, and Lars follows them everywhere they go, photographing the pair and writing detailed notes about them. The relationship between the two is strictly friendly. They never become lovers. Soon Lars becomes obsessed with Sophie. She is everything Lars' girlfriend, Sara, is not. Sophie's house is clean, bright, and tastefully decorated, whereas Sara is a hippie with no sense of style. Lars lets himself into Sophie's house when she is at work and takes lots of pictures to transfer to his computer when he gets home. 

The National Crime Unit plants "bugs" in every room in Sophie's house, including her teenage son, Albert's, room. Lars has to stay in the van outside Sophie's house and record everything that is said. Lars is not very well-liked by his co-workers and is ridiculed and given jobs, like stakeouts, which no one else wants. Soon Lars is back on painkillers, and everything starts to change. Lars protects Sophie and son Albert from the National Crime Unit. Finally, revenge and Lars' form of justice shows his character to be more analytic and strategic than any of his co-workers ever imagined he could be. 

Although Sophie and Hector remain friends, Sophie realizes who he is. Then,  and old boyfriend, Jens, comes back into Sophie's life, but he turns out to be an illegal arms dealer. Poor Sophie, she just seems to be  always attracting the wrong sorts of men. Hector, the Spanish crime boss, Lars, the drug-addicted police spy, and Jens, the international illegal arms dealer. 

I am strongly attracted to Scandinavian writers because I am half Norwegian. Reading these books, I find the names of my relatives and recognize certain words that I have not heard in decades. 

Thanks for your review, Shirley!

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