Swedish writer Joakim Zander is a truly polished thriller writer whose two former novels "The Swimmer" and "The Brother" move effortlessly between Europe and the Middle East, creating a sense of intrigue and contemporary espionage that is to be deeply lauded.
His latest spectacular novel "The Friend," the third in the Klara Walldeen series, again shows his skills at both building and sustaining a gripping story. And at the end of the fast-paced read, one is left wanting for more.
The reader is immediately immersed from the outset as the still wet-behind-the- ears Jacob Seger arrives in Beirut. There he lands his first job after completing a degree in political science, as an intern at the Swedish Embassy.
Beirut is certainly not for the faint-hearted and Zander is adept at building up the atmosphere of this war-torn city that is at the same time a place of dark mystery, narrow alleyways, bullet-ridden buildings; those that remain half begun and never completed; caught in the cross fire of a never-ending cycle of violence and strife.
One can almost smell the damp emanating from the concrete, and alternately get a whiff of the heady aromas of the za'atar spice, the olive oil and the smell of freshly grilled kebabs in the myriad restaurants plying age old dishes to Beirutis across this complex town, once known as the pearl of the Mediterranean.