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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

‘The Grand Man’ by Florence Wetzel

Published by Förlag BoD,
15 May 2019.
ISBN: 978-91-7785-973-4 (PB)

The author solves an intriguing cocktail of two haunting Swedish mysteries ­– the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and the whereabouts of Stieg Larsson’s missing final manuscript. In protagonist Juliet Brown’s head, her actions are shaped by the voice of Lizbeth Salander, her guide and steadfast friend. 

Jazz journalist and ScandiGeek, Juliet heads off to the cobblestoned streets of Stockholm. In the harsh chill of a Swedish winter she’s on a quest to interview a celebrated American jazz vocalist and is quickly immersed in the city’s zesty and dynamic music scene whilst unwittingly sucked into the dark circumstances of Palme’s last hours.  With terrifying ease, Juliet, an average, ordinary woman, is plunged into several choices.  

Written with panache and an eye for detail, the reader is drip fed the two taut themes until the final denouement. What I really liked was the introduction of Swedish words and phrases that made me feel as though I was actually living in that snow bound country.  Ulrika Johansson, Detective Inspector, Serious Crime, is a compelling, ambitious and sharp-witted investigator and one fervently hopes one has not seen the last of her for she is the sort of person whose adventures deserve to feature centre stage in a series of titles. 

As the two elements of the story intertwine, Juliet edges closer to the truth and a sense of the truly unexpected and dramatic snaps at one’s heels even as one savours the subtleties of slowly releasing information.  A well-planned plot and a satisfying ending add up to a very enjoyable novel. It is time to celebrate a new, multi-faceted read with a punchy premise.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax 

Florence Wetzel is the author of several novels. She has also written a book of poems and memoir tales, and she is the co-author of jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson's autobiography.  

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practiced in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things. 

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