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Friday, 8 January 2016

‘The Chosen’ by Kristina Ohlsson

Published by Simon and Schuster,
14 January 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-47114-880-4 (PB)

The Chosen is a story of revenge served cold, very cold.

The complicated tale is set in Stockholm where the investigative analyst, Fredrika Bergman and police inspector Alex Recht hunt for the heartless killer of a pre-school teacher and two ten year old boys who are abducted and then shot.  All three victims belong to a Jewish community, a fact that assumes greater importance as the investigation proceeds.  Fredrika and Alex are helped/ hindered in their search for the truth by the Swedish secret service Sapo and the Israeli’s Mossad, and by an ex-police colleague who’d abandoned the police several years previously after he’d shot his brother’s murderer.  A previous relationship between Eden Lundell, a senior member of Sapo and Efraim Keil, a Mossad agent who just happens to be in Stockholm, though nobody knows why, further complicates the story.

The name, The Paper Boy, keeps cropping up in the investigation.  A frightening concept used to discipline children on a kibbutz.  Is he a mythical figure or a real person?  And why has the name reappeared in Sweden?
Fredrika and Alex believe that both sets of the dead boy’s parents know more than they are willing to reveal. The parents share a lot of history.  The two husbands had grown up together on a kibbutz, and they, and one of the wives had done military service with Mossad agent Efraim Keil before both families upped sticks and left Israel roughly ten years previously.

Fredrica goes to Israel where, to her surprise, she gets ostracized by the Israeli police who  are supposed to be helping her.  Why are they so sensitive to the questions she is asking?  She travels alone to the kibbutz where one set of the murdered boy’s grandparents still live.  There she learns much of the tragic history of the two families they are investigating and realizes that the ramifications of this story extend back over three generations.  She travels back to Sweden for the truly shocking climax to their investigations.
This book has 577 pages, but it moves along at a good pace. The deaths of the two boys, whose characters are drawn before they die, are handled in a reasonably matter of fact manner and the various threads of the tale are interwoven well.  There is some clever misdirection.  I was thoroughly engaged by the story and would definitely recommend it to others.
Reviewer Angela Crowther

Kristina Ohlsson is a political scientist and until recently held the position of Counter-Terrorism Officer at OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). She has previously worked at the Swedish Security Service, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish National Defense College, where she was a junior expert on the Middle East conflict and the foreign policy of the European Union. Kristina lives in Stockholm.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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