I read my first Liza Marklund book last year (review of The Bomber) and quite enjoyed it.
Reporter Annika Bengtson returns in Vanished. I hadn't read the books in between and found Annika in a different state of mind and place. She's at the newspaper, but is a copy editor, not out in the field. She lives in a stark apartment in a condemned building, simply existing, trying to deal with numerous tragedies in her personal life. But while editing a story on a recent double murder on the waterfront one night, a random call is routed to her desk and she finds herself immediately intrigued. Rebecka claims to be able to erase a person's past and set them up with a new identity and life. Annika's boss gives her the go ahead to pursue the story - he's happy to see her excited about something again. But The Paradise Foundation may not be everything Rebeckah claims. And when she discovers that the waterfront murders and the Foundation may have a connection, Annika is drawn in....
This was a very different Annika for me. At times I saw the strong, fearless reporter, at other times she was a puddle on the floor. I understood her grief, but the neediness shown at a certain juncture is well - obsessive. I had a hard time accepting that she could swing so far from one side to the other in such a short time.
I found the idea of The Paradise Foundation fascinating. Office politics and ethics, Eastern Bloc Mafia, marriage, happiness and the Swedish social assistance program are also stirred into the plot of Vanished. There was a bit of proselytizing near the end that I did find myself skipping over. It was only as I read the end notes, that I discovered Marklund's basis for this book. While working as a night reporter on a Swedish newspaper, Marklund really did receive a call about a foundation exactly as described and ended up investigating it. I wonder how much of Liza Marklund is part of Annika?
The pacing is a bit slower, with lots of personal story this time. Marklund ends the book with a good twist - identifying the author of small diatribes scattered throughout the book - one I did not see coming. All in all a good read. I'm intrigued by this character and will definitely read another in this series. Read an excerpt of Vanished. You can find Marklund on Facebook