Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review of The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

The Andalucian Friend is heralded as being the next best thing to come out of Sweden and it is being compared to the global phenomenon The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson. I for one don't see how they are similar besides the location of each title being in Sweden. With that being said, I move on to my review of The Andalucian Friend.

The Andalucian Friend begins with Sophie Brinkmann meeting a man named Hector Guzman in the hospital she is a nurse for. They begin a relationship outside of that hospital and this is where the trouble starts. Sophie is not anyone special. She is simply a widowed nurse who is taking care of her teenage son Alberto yet she is a main focal point for almost everyone in the novel. The cops want her to inform on Hector who is a boss in an international crime ring. It doesn't take long for things to spiral out of control for Sophie and her quiet life.

Enter many characters and then some more characters and you have Soderbergs latest novel. There are so many characters that I used notes to separate them from each other. Besides them all being primarily gangsters or rogue cops, there isn't much else in the way of describing them or their backgrounds until farther down the line in the book. Thankfully Soderberg at least provides a character list that at least helps to maintain their country of origin and who's side they are possibly on in what turns out to be a huge turf battle amongst rival organizations.

Although I didn't find many redeeming qualities about many of the characters, I still found myself taking sides. Besides Sophie the whole lot are mainly comprised of people who are murderers, arms dealers, insane cops, and crime lords. Not the norms who are worthy of any sympathy. The beat cop that is introduced in this novel has a lock on insanely deranged people. I will not forget his drug addiction or his weird obsession with the novel's heroine. He is crazy with a capital C.

Ultimately, The Andalucian Friend is a well-written quick read. It's not what I would generally think of as a thriller but it does have the element of suspense in the background. The many storylines and their relationships kept me invested in this novel and guessing until the end.  I was interested in finding out which one of these greedy, guilt-ridden, sociopaths were going to escape with the money and power. The ending did not let me down and I was actually pretty happy with it. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. Hopefully it goes a little deeper into the psyche of the characters remaining after this initial battle. ****

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