The Believer by Joakim Zander
Klara Walldéen #2
Published by Harper Collins on January 17, 2017
Yasmine Ajam fled her past in the rough Stockholm borough Bergort, reinventing herself as a trendspotter in New York City. One day she receives a startling message: there are riots erupting on the streets of Stockholm and they appear to be connected with the disappearance of her brother, Fadi.
Following rumors that Fadi was radicalized and died fighting for ISIS in Syria, Yasmine returns to Stockholm to discover what really happened to her brother. There she becomes entangled in a dangerous web of allegiances and violence that stretches far beyond the gangs on her childhood streets.
Meanwhile, in London, Klara Walldéen has landed a job at a human rights research institute working on a report to predict the effects of privatizing police forces. When Klara travels to Stockholm to present her findings to European Union policymakers, her laptop is stolen and one of her colleagues is pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. As her path collides with Yasmine´s, Klara begins to realize that she may unwittingly be contributing to the sinister agendas of powerful interests who will stop at nothing to attain their goals.
In this second Klara Walldéen book, the story is quite different. The main figure is not present from the beginning.
It takes a while until she appears and the Klara in this thriller is a different one than in The Swimmer. Still the same person, but she has changed.
Klara lives now in London. After all the bad things in Sweden and the death of the father she barely knew, she goes to the big city to work for a woman she doesn´t know very much either. But she needs the distance, needs to believe that her life can change for the better after all that had happened. And for some months it works. Until she discovers, that even in London not everything is okay. Too much alcohol, too much working hours and a project, that soon turns out to be a very dangerous one. And when she meets Yasmine and has to learn that a man she thought she could trust, is involved in a high pitched game, she turns again to the only person she knows for help.
The story is told from Fadi´s point of view and through the personal perspective by Yasmine and Klara. That changes from chapter to chapter. Joakim Zander sends the reader on a journey that goes from New York to Bergort, Syria, London and Stockholm.
The plot is about Fadi, who becomes a soldier for ISIS, who thinks what he does is right, until he learns the bitter truth and that he is the reason why innocent men, women, and children are dead now. And when he sees finally who the real evil is, he turns on a path of revenge and hate; becomes a ghost. And that is where his sister steps into the game. She can´t believe that he is dead, and does everything to proof she´s right. And puts herself not only in life-threatening danger but sets things into motion she shouldn´t have. All of the sudden she is chased by a group of men who stop at nothing to keep her quiet.
The authors writing style is clear, blunt, insistent and dry. Joakim Zander describes the dry and desolate Reality of young refugees, their fight to be accepted and no matter what they do it is never enough. They face every day a ostracism by the native society, boredom is part of their daily life and how their expressions explode in senseless but dangerous riots.
Joakim Zander has a special ability to create characters. Characters who are on one hand very interesting, on the other full of abysses. They are very profound, have their own demons their struggling with and in combination with religion, boredom, not caring parents and a certain cultural background the ground for trouble and dangerous actions are given.
The problems of a modern society, what ignorance can cause and that money and political power rule no matter what the human mind says – yes, the author brings it all into the game.
Klara and Yasmine are two young women who couldn´t be any more different than they are. Klara grew up in a loving and caring environment. Has never faced war or how it feels to be on the run from death and despair.
Yasmine grew up torn between two different cultures and with a religion she doesn´t see as her own. Her job as a Trend Scout shows her new cultures, new people and places she´s never been before or even heard of. But she can´t deny what or who she is. And so one day she has to decide what to do to save not only her brother but also herself.
This is a weird intense thriller, who really starts to become a good one in the second half of the book. Then The Believer turns into a haunting and diversified reading pleasure. For all those, who read the first book I recommend the second as well. To all others, I advise you to start with the first book because in this one are mentioned a lot of things that happened in The Swimmer.
*I read the German edition new release June 24, 2016, by Rowohlt Polaris.
Joakim Zander, born 1975 in Stockholm, grew up in Söderköping on the Swedish coast and lived in Syria, Israel, and the US. He spent ten years working in Brussels as a lawyer and now lives with his wife and their two children in Lund, Sweden, where he writes full time. His first novel The Swimmer has been sold to 30 countries around the world. He was nominated for the Swedish Crime Award with his second book, The Brother (G) /The Believer (US).