The Andalucian Friend

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March 08, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST

Sorry, IKEA meatballs — you’ve officially been replaced by literary thrillers as Sweden’s top cultural export. Söderberg is the latest to join the umlauted empire led by Larsson, Läckberg, Mankell, et al., and like many of his peers he’s working a long game: The Andalucian Friend is the first in a projected trilogy. Also like many of them, he leads with a strong female — not a steely detective or a tattooed hacker, but a young widowed nurse living quietly with her son in a Stockholm suburb. Enter Hector Guzman, a mysterious, requisitely sexy patient in her ward, who abruptly plunges her into a criminal underworld that stretches from Russia to Paraguay. The sprawling cast and slow-burn plotting may frustrate some, but Söderberg rewards patience with subtler thrills — and an excellent vicarious passport. A-

The Andalucian Friend

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The Andalucian Friend

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