Geiger by Gustaf Skordeman – A well paced thriller with multidimensional characters and many surprises

Geiger by Gustaf Skordeman

A thriller set in contemporary Sweden with a fast paced plot, based on old crimes and present threats, Geiger begins with a trigger that sets off a whole trail of danger. Partly reflecting the complexity of Cold War issues, partly a personally felt confirmation that no one is entirely what they seem, two women dominate a novel which combines brilliantly the huge forces at play with the private betrayals of the past. Agneta is a grandmother, a respectable and quiet woman married to a celebrity. Sara is a police officer working with vulnerable women and arresting those who exploit them. The plot that they find themselves involved in may have been fifty years in the making, but the dangers are real now. This is a powerful, complex novel which maintains the suspense right through to the end, while managing to narrate the actions and reactions of Agneta and Sara throughout. As the focus changes between the various characters, this is a well worked out novel which raises then ties up many ends. The research is immense, and does not reflect straightforward history as much as the suggested material on the edge, which is thoroughly backed up in the action. A definitive thriller, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this exciting book.

The novel begins with grandparents Agneta and Stellan’s time looking after their two daughters’ sets of children. They have been on holiday, while doting grandmother Agneta has taken the brunt of the childcare, and Grandpa Stellan has taken refuge in the study. When Lotta and Malin return with their respective husbands, peace begins to return to the big house in an expensive suburb, one that befits a retired television celebrity whose legendary programmes had dominated the schedules when options were limited. Just as the two families are stowed in their respective cars and begin to drive off, a landline call comes through. Agneta rushed to answer it, and hearing the one word “Geiger”, she takes action to retrieve a pistol  and begins an apparently preordained series of actions which have been prepared for over decades. As soon as the call registers, it provokes action in a semi defunct intelligence centre and people start moving. Sara is at work, an ex model with a job in the prostitution unit, angry at a system that allows them only to fine clients of the exploited girls. She pursues a man who has injured a girl, and makes an arrest which shocks her associate. It is at this adrenaline filled moment that she gets a call from her friend Anna who is charged with investigating a crime in a setting that Sara has special knowledge of, and which will envelop her as she tries to deal with her own family issues.

This is a book which switches focus quickly, but which always provides sufficient information to allow the reader to catch up and understand where the story is heading. There are intriguing twists and turns spread throughout, and surprising revelations for nearly everyone concerned. The author has constructed a thriller which has solid and memorable characters, all with motivations that can be seen if not understood. Carefully written, this is a book which is paced like a crime and mystery book, but with multidimensional characters with their own stories. It is altogether a terrific read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast paced read with real depth from a debut author.