Stockholm, September 2011.
Carina Dymek is on a fast track for promotion at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when she is approached by a stranger and given a USB stick containing a report to circulate in her department. Unwittingly, she delivers a time bomb of classified information that sends her career up in flames and puts her on the radar of the security service, Säpo.
Tasked with investigating how Dymek gained access to the confidential report, the formidable Bente Jensen of Säpo is quietly approached by the British MI6, who have an undisclosed interest in the leak. She finds out that Dymek's boyfriend is an Egyptian Swedish national. But it's MI6 who link his family to an extreme faction within the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.
The case explodes into an international manhunt. Liaising with the ruthless MI6, Bente uncovers the secretive plans contained in that leaked report: plans for an omnipotent Europe-wide Intelligence Service. Forces hone in on Dymek, while Bente begins to suspect she is a red herring caught in a far wider net: one in which social media is abused for intelligence and civil rights are sacrificed to national security.
Andreas Norman, a former Swedish Ministry official, has written an explosive expose of Anglo-American spying and surveillance on European civilians in the name of counter-terrorism. This dizzying thriller anticipated the Edward Snowden revelations and rocked Sweden on publication.
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. Carina's 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 they're 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.