"Vanished" by Liza Marklund
Annika Bengtzon is working as a copy editor at Stockholm's Evening Post when a call comes into the newsroom. With her colleagues busy working on a story about a double murder at the docks, Annika takes the call. It's from a woman who claims that her organization, the Paradise Foundation, can help people change identities and completely erase their pasts and she wants Annika to write a story about them.
Shortly after meeting with her, Annika is contacted by another woman named Aida who has a connection to the double murder and whose life is in danger. To help her escape, Annika puts her into contact with the Paradise Foundation. But when Aida turns up dead, Annika decides to dig deeper into the organization and finds that it's not what it seems. And as Annika and local council employee Thomas try to shed light on its activities, they find their own lives in danger.
Vanished, by Liza, Marklund, is a fast-paced thriller by Scandinavia's Queen of crime fiction. Reading this book you will easily see how she has earned that title. Annika Bengtzon is a fantastic heroine. She is flawed and complex, but committed to fairness and justice and will be loved by every reader. The scope of this book is very wide and it makes for a great story, one that is rooted in an actual story Marklund investigated herself in her earlier career as a journalist.
This book is a part of a series centred around Annika Bengtzon. What I like very much about this series is that while you do see Annika move her way up at the paper, and grow into her role as wife and mother throughout the series, you do not have to read the books in chronological order. This is the second book of the series that I have read (see my review of The Bomber here) and this one takes place earlier than the previous book. It's a very interesting way to discover the character of Annika and I love that you know bits and pieces from all over her life while you're reading, but not the whole story.
There is a lot going on in the book - Annika's past, her ill grandmother, her relationship with Thomas, the Paradise Foundation, the involvement of the Yugoslavian Mafia in the murders, Aida's past in Yugoslavia - and there are some points that I personally felt could have been dealt with better (for example, not as much attention or more explanation) however, Marklund is a very skilled writer and does an excellent job of weaving all of this together.
Vanished is a well-written and thrilling novel. Having thoroughly enjoyed both this book and The Bomber, I look forward to reading the rest of the Annika Bengtzon series.