His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.
Here’s something a
little different from the run of Scandi Noir. Andreas Norman’s Into a Raging Blaze, published in Sweden
in 2013 and now appearing in an English translation by Ian Giles, anticipated
the Snowden revelations and reinforces the fear that there’s no secrecy for
anyone, anywhere, anytime. Since the author worked in a counter-terrorism unit
in his own country and presumably knows what he’s talking about, here is a
conspiracy thriller that demonstrates paranoia is advisable.
Carina Dymek, a career civil servant in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, is ambitious and conscientious - and a woman with a conscience.
Which is why after a meeting in Brussels she is approached by another civil
servant, who introduces himself only as Jean and gives her a memory stick
containing a covert plan for a Europe-wide Intelligence Service, which will
fall outside any parliamentary supervision.
Unwisely, Dymek broadcasts this to her boyfriend Jamal
Badawi, among others, and even more unfortunately the innocent Badawi, who
works in the Ministry of Justice, comes onto the terrorist radar. A kind of
counterpart and parallel to Dymek is Bente Jensen, who heads the Section for
Special Intelligence, basically a semi-legal eavesdropping operation working
for Sweden but always with a deferential eye to the bigger players, Britain and
the US. Though at first Jensen pursues Carina without any qualms, she soon
comes to suspect that the ‘terrorist’ case against the couple is without any
foundation. Further, like Snowden, she starts to doubt the legality and
morality of what her government is up to.
This isn’t a big-bang thriller. There are some narrow
getaways and evasions but there is also plenty of attention given to status
battles within the various intelligence outfits. British readers may be
surprised by the mixture of respect and resentment which is accorded to MI6 and
the universal reach of GCHQ. Apparently, we are second only to the Americans in
our expertise and ruthlessness in the world of shadows and surveillance. Into a Raging Blaze is a timely book,
then, and - in an understated sort of way - an