TLC Book Review: The Swimmer

The SwimmerAuthor: Joakim Zander

Good thrillers read like a movie, and The Swimmer measures up nicely.

As stated by publisher, Harper, “Whip-smart and sophisticated, Joakim Zander’s debut sweeps across the globe with a story that delivers a series of unforgettable turns and unforeseen twists.” A CIA agent under deep cover must rush across Europe to save the daughter he gave up.

A bit of the plot

A deep-cover CIA agent races across Europe to save the daughter he never knew in this electrifying debut thriller— an international sensation billed as “Homeland meets Stieg Larsson”—that heralds the arrival of a new master.

Early 1980s, Damascus. A nameless American spy abandons his newborn child to an uncertain fate. His inability to forgive himself for what he has done leads him on a lifelong quest to escape his past that will take him to Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq—anywhere where the danger and the stress allow him to forget.

Thirty years later, EU aide Klara Walldéen is learning to navigate the world of politics—the lines between friend and enemy, truth and lies. But Klara has just seen something she should not have: a laptop containing information so sensitive that people will kill to keep it hidden. Suddenly she is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe, with no idea who is hunting her or why.

Their stories converge one stormy Christmas Eve in the Swedish archipelago, where blood is spilled, shocking discoveries are made, and the past inevitably catches up with the present.

I decided to step outside my little genre box with The Swimmer, and I’m so glad that I did. “Political thriller” didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy, but Joakim Zander’s fast-paced, intricate debut made me a believer.

From beginning to end, each chapter in this well crafted novel hinted small pieces of a large, complex puzzle, which made it impossible to put down. I greedily devoured this electrifying novel at an alarming rate. The Swimmer truly reads like a stellar action film.

This political suspense/thriller addresses the complexities of emotion—guilt and revenge. Love and redemption. His characters jump off the page with life, emotion, and personality. Each one is introduced one at a time, building upon the plot as they are weaved into the narrative.

Zander’s voice is strong, sometimes blunt, but deceptively simple as it articulates a story of complex relationships and conflicts. I was hooked.

This debut from Zander boasts a promising career. I definitely look forward to his future work and recommend this book to anyone looking for a good political thriller.

About the author

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Joakim Zander has lived inzander Syria and Israel and graduated from high school in the United States. He earned a PhD in Law from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and has worked as a lawyer for the European Union in Brussels and Helsinki. The Swimmer is his first novel; rights have been sold in 28 territories. Zander currently lives in southern Sweden with his wife and two children.

I’m so happy to be participating in the tour for The Swimmer. Check out a complete listing of tour stops here. It runs through March 13.

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