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Sunday 4 January 2015

‘Into A Raging Blaze’ by Andreas Norman

Published by Quercus Books,
July 2014.

Carina Dymek is in line for promotion at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs when she’s given a top-secret file - except that nobody will believe her story of how she got it, and suddenly she’s plummeted from among the hunters to being the hunted…

This thriller begins with a corpse, then pulls back to create Carina’s world for us: competitive, with a constant work overload that she sheds by swimming sessions, busy with urgent memos from the centre of European power. We sympathise with Carina’s uneasiness as an outsider (she didn’t go to the right University), and her determination to make good. Her relationship with Jamal is touching. Norman worked in the MFA, so this background is authentically drawn. When Carina’s world is overturned, we move into international politics, and the nightmare of authority determined to find a conspiracy with links to the recent Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood. Bente Jensen of the Security Service becomes a key protagonist, and we’re taken into her world, where people are followed using the city’s CCTV and listened to via the phone in their pocket. Innocent people are drawn in through an Internet request.

The political machinations of a government trying to sneak in unacceptable legislation are chillingly convincing - you don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to find this novel believable. The plot is focused on suspense, and what violence there is is impersonally dealt out by agents of the state. If you want to know how much ‘they’ can really find out about you, read this one.

A political thriller which is also the story of one woman caught in the way of an international juggernaut.
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Andreas Norman, was born 1972 in Stockholm. He is a Swedish former diplomat and acclaimed writer of the debut novel En rasande eld (Into A Raging Blaze). This political thriller rocked Sweden upon release with its portrayal of the mass surveillance that anticipated Edward Snowden's revelations. The book was hailed as "a dazzling suspense novel" and Andreas Norman as the thriller debutant of the year in Sweden 2013. A bigscreen adaption of the book is currently being produced, the film opening in Spring 2016.
Andreas Norman made his debut as a writer in 1996 with a poetry collection published by Albert Bonniers Förlag, but then made an unexpected career change and became a diplomat, joining the Swedish foreign service in 2003 after years of studies and work abroad. As a diplomat he worked at the Swedish Embassies in Bosnia-Hercegovina, FYROM-Macedonia and Lithuania. For several years he served at the so-called Counter-terrorism Unit of the Swedish Foreign Ministry. It was in this latter position he had the opportunity to enter the inner circles of the intelligence community and top secret diplomacy, experiences which he transformed into a chilling and captivating page-turner.
What if you sent an email, thinking you were just doing your job, and then realised that you were now regarded as a threat to the nation? What if every single part of your private life came under scrutiny, without you even understanding why? What if you realised that something had gone terribly wrong, so wrong that you would put your life in danger if you'd try to find out the truth? This is the starting point of Into A Raging Blaze. A political thriller set in the world that used to be the author, Andreas Norman's, everyday life: intelligence and diplomacy.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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