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Into a Raging Blaze

by Andreas Norman

Kirkus An oddly named but engaging spy thriller translated from the Swedish.Carina Dymek is a young, midlevel civil servant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm with the job of analyzing European Union security policies. After a meeting in Brussels, a stranger introduces himself as Jean and persuades her to accept a USB memory stick. On it, he explains, is secret information about a proposed European Intelligence Service that would create a European spy organization without the knowledge of elected public officials. Why give it to her? "You have a conscience," he explains, asking her to read the proposal and leak its contents to the right people. Soon her troubles begin. Her bosses quickly learn that she has the memory stick. They interrogate her about it, but she doesn't give it up, and they suspend her from her duties. She must locate the mysterious Jean to help clear her name, but that seems impossible. Meanwhile, Bente Jensen of the Swedish Security Service is investigating Carina and her Egyptian boyfriend, Jamal, who authorities believe are up to no good. Are they planning a major terrorist attack? Bente doesn't think so, but her colleagues do. They intercept an email with an Arabic poem that says, "Their fire will loom before you, kindling desire into a raging blaze." That sounds like a metaphor for an act of terror, and soon the chase is on to arrest Carina and Jamal. While the novel's title comes from that quote, it misleads the reader about what the book delivers. Still, there is tension and excitement, with a plot that builds steadily. Bente and Carina are strong and sympathetic women whose interests coincide when a conspiracy unfolds. Bente delivers the best line: "If you're going to lie then you have to do so truthfully." There's plenty to like in this plausible and well-written tale. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Starred Review. At a meeting abroad, Carina Dymek, a Swedish civil servant, is approached by a stranger who gives her a USB memory stick containing a secret, very disturbing European Union Commission report. When Carina sends the report on to her boss, she finds herself suddenly suspended from her job. The authorities don't believe her when she tells how she got the document. In no time at all, Carina and her Egyptian Swedish lover are the objects of a full-strength antiterrorism operation. Enter a Swedish spy catcher who goes along with the hunt at first but gradually becomes suspicious. SAPO agent Bente Jensen suspects Sweden's partners in espionage, Britain's MI6 and America's CIA, are gaming her government. For their own reasons, the agencies don't want anyone to find out about this document. How can Carina derail the juggernaut they have unleashed? VERDICT Norman, a former diplomat in Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has written a first-rate debut thriller that asks: Who watches the watchers if they don't choose to be seen? The narrative starts slow but doesn't take long to build up speed. From then on, watch out!-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Norman, a former diplomat in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brings his expertise to his intermittently compelling first novel, a spy thriller. At a routine conference in Brussels, an E.U. Commission staffer leaks information to Carina Dymek, a midlevel Swedish bureaucrat, about a plan to create the European Intelligence Service, a kind of CIA for Europe. Carinas choice to tell her boss of this plan lands her in a world of trouble, which is compounded by the possible connection of her boyfriend, Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian-born Swedish citizen, to the Muslim Brotherhood. Swedish intelligence, in the person of the tenacious Bente Jensen, is charged with discovering exactly what Carina and Jamal are up to-including the possibility that theyre involved in an imminent terrorist attack. Repetitive and often polemical detail may put off some readers (the author clearly thinks the EIS is a bad idea), but the action and tradecraft are good, and the book generates some real momentum. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* At a European Union committee meeting, Swedish diplomat Carina Dymek passionately condemns racist undertones in border-security proposals, capturing the attention of a mysterious EU representative who praises her conscience and secretively slips her a USB drive. The drive's contents are unsettling and dangerous: top-secret EU proposals to create a common espionage unit without knowledge of representative countries' elected officials. Carina dutifully passes it along to her superiors and her boyfriend, Jamal Badawi, an attorney at the Ministry of Justice. Within hours, she's plunged into a maelstrom of high-stakes espionage, fleeing from Säpo, the Swedish security service, with the document. Bente Jensen, head of Sweden's covert counterespionage unit, evaluates MI6 intelligence that Carina is a terrorist, recruited by Jamal on orders from his uncle, who is linked to a violent faction of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bente is skeptical about the allegations, and she carefully sidesteps the official mission and investigates Carina's role, racing to discover what's really behind MI6's allegations before either of them is killed. Norman weaves EU politics, the dark reality of diplomacy, and modern espionage techniques together with a classic thriller story, creating a detailed, thoughtful exploration of ethics and sacrifices in the era of the War on Terror and WikiLeaks. Fully dimensional characters humanize this thriller, and readers will be intrigued by the European perspective on international power, which blurs the role of the U.S. as the good guy.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.