Borderline: An Annika Bengtzon Thriller - Liza Marklund

Book #9 in this series featuring journalist Annika Bengtzon is an engrossing if disturbing read. She has reconciled with ex-husband Thomas & is back working at the Evening Post. When a young mother is found dead behind a school, she is added to the growing list of women who have been stabbed in & around Stockholm.

Meanwhile, Thomas is in Kenya as part of an international delegation discussing border security. When their vehicles are stopped by armed gunmen, the situation quickly disintegrates & the group is taken hostage by Somali terrorists. Nothing like a kidnapping to ruin you whole day.

Annika gets the news from Jimmy Halenius, Thomas' boss at the Dept. of Justice. Before she can catch her breath, her apartment becomes "Kidnap Control" as Jimmy moves in to monitor communication with the rebels & barter through ransom negotiations.

The story takes place over a 10 day period & chapters alternate between Annika & Thomas as we follow the ordeal through their personal POV. 

Annika has to deal with shielding her children while trying to raise money for the ransom. After approaching family & colleagues for help, she no longer knows who to trust as some reveal their true colours. The tables are turned as she becomes the target of reporters hungry for the inside scoop & she's forced to take a hard look at her life. 

The chapters narrated by Thomas are graphic & disturbing. His situation becomes increasingly horrific as he & the other hostages suffer at the hands of a mad man. It's not for the faint of heart & all too believable in light of recent real life videos of people like David Haines & James Foley. As the days pass, Thomas is also forced to reexamine his life & some of the choices he's made.

Ms. Marklund has obviously done extensive research on the topic & political junkies will appreciate passages detailing previous high profile hostages such as Daniel Pearl & Ingrid Betancourt. It touches on the reality of conditions in poverty stricken areas of Africa versus the EU mentality of protectionism. 

Despite the short time frame, it's initially a slow, almost claustrophobic read. But this effectively mirrors what it might feel like to be a family in this situation where life as you know it hinges on the next phone call. The pace picks up considerably in the last few chapters as events spin out of control & Annika makes some tough decisions.

If you're a fan of this series or Scandinavian Noir in general, this is for you. It's a dark & haunting tale that will stay with you long after the last page.