Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Harper (February 10, 2015)
A deep-cover CIA agent races across Europe to save the daughter he never knew in this electrifying debut thriller— an international sensation billed as “Homeland meets Stieg Larsson”—that heralds the arrival of a new master.
Early 1980s, Damascus. A nameless American spy abandons his newborn child to an uncertain fate. His inability to forgive himself for what he has done leads him on a lifelong quest to escape his past that will take him to Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq—anywhere where the danger and the stress allow him to forget.
Thirty years later, EU aide Klara Walldéen is learning to navigate the world of politics—the lines between friend and enemy, truth and lies. But Klara has just seen something she should not have: a laptop containing information so sensitive that people will kill to keep it hidden. Suddenly she is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe, with no idea who is hunting her or why.
Their stories converge one stormy Christmas Eve in the Swedish archipelago, where blood is spilled, shocking discoveries are made, and the past inevitably catches up with the present.
Buy, read, and discuss The Swimmer
About the author, Joakim Zander
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Joakim Zander has lived in Syria and Israel and graduated from high school in the United States. He earned a PhD in Law from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and has worked as a lawyer for the European Union in Brussels and Helsinki. The Swimmer is his first novel; rights have been sold in 28 territories. Zander currently lives in southern Sweden with his wife and two children.
Connect with Joakim
I love a good political thriller, and I was really excited to be given a chance to read The Swimmer. I’m told it’s likely to be popular among fans of Stieg Larsson’s work, but with all the reading I do, I’ve managed to miss reading any of his work, so when I tell you this novel will suck you in gently with it’s opening involving a baby saved from a bombing, and keep you hooked until the very last page, know that I do so without a direct contemporary comparison, but that’s okay, because really, this thriller has more in common with old-school writers like Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum.
Zander’s writing voice is clear and unaffected, sometimes even stark, and yet his characters leap of the pages, and his descriptions of places are as three-dimensional as if you walked into them yourself. What’s more, this is a book originally written in the author’s native Swedish, and translated to English, but it never feels like a translation…that’s how well-crafted it is.
Then there’s the pacing. After setting up the characters, Klara, the young woman who was orphaned as a baby and raised by her grandparents, and the aging spy half a world away from Klara’s home in Brussels, where she works as as political aide, the story ramps up, ever increasing the suspense until it comes to a finish that’s almost explosive.
If you want the feeling of a really gripping old-school thriller, but with contemporary characters and an absolutely modern setting, dive into The Swimmer. You’ll hate it when the book ends and you’re forced to come up for air.
Goes well with A cappuccino and a butter croissant, eaten from behind a newspaper in an outdoor cafe.
Wednesday, February 11th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 13th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, February 16th: My Bookish Ways
Tuesday, February 17th: Staircase Wit
Wednesday, February 18th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 19th: Annabel & Alice
Friday, February 20th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 23rd: Stephany Writes
Tuesday, February 24th: A Dream Within a Dream
Wednesday, February 25th: Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Thursday, February 26th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Monday, March 2nd: The Discerning Reader
Tuesday, March 3rd: Novel Escapes
Thursday, March 5th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, March 6th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, March 11th: Many Hats