Knock Knock by Anders Roslund

He thought she was safe. Then the past came knocking.

Seventeen years ago Inspector Ewert Grens was called to the scene of a brutal crime. A family had been executed, with only their five-year-old daughter left alive. The girl was placed under witness protection and adopted but the case went cold – a fact that haunts Grens. When he learns that the apartment where the crime took place is now the scene of a mysterious break-in, Grens realises that someone is intent on silencing the only witness. He must find her… before they do.

Meanwhile, Piet Hoffman has put his life of crime and infiltrating the most dangerous criminal gangs behind him to live a peaceful life with his wife and three children. But one day, he returns home to find that someone has found him – and has the power to share his identity with some of the sadistic criminals that he has helped put away over the years. With the strong possibility that the police have been compromised, there is only one man he can trust to help him, and save his family.

Perfect for fans of Jo Nesbø, Samuel Bjørk and Stieg Larsson.

Anders Roslund (c) Emil Eiman-Roslund

I am delighted to join the #blogtour for #KnockKock by Anders Roslund.

It is amazing how the authors can create compulsive heart-pounding stories that have huge impact on the readers, particularly when it comes to the genre widely known as crime fiction which encompasses so many varieties. I believe that a fool proof way to find out more about some social issues is to read certain excellent crime novels which follow long-established tradition. In Sweden this has definitely come a long way since Sjöwall & Wahlöö’s partnership. Anders Roslund never loses the sight of brilliant storytelling, detailed characterisation and logical systematic construction in his writing while he continues to be a well-informed journalist. His collaboration with late Börge Hellström brought seven critically acclaimed books, including 3 Minutes and 3 Hours. In another venture and writing under the pseudonym Anton Svensson, duo Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg published Father and The Sons, focusing on familiar issues of violence, guilt and retribution.

In Knock Knock Roslund again takes on the grey area of law where the protagonists must operate, and created fully-developed main and secondary characters, each with own past, present and uncertain future, an array of emotions and experiences, and ways to deal with conflict. The familiar faces appear: Grens’ immediate boss Erik Wilson and detective Mariana Hermansson, and also a couple of bright new recruits, Each interaction is important and drives the plot towards explosive finale. Ex-criminal Piet Hoffman, with his overwhelming love for his family and still struggling with his past which shows its ugly head, and Inspector Ewert Grens, on the brink of retirement and haunted by the unsolved case, both deeply suspicious begin to trust each other and become unlikely partners for three days. Relationship between these two on the opposing sides of the law is complex, difficult, yet ultimately enriching. They both experienced and fear loneliness, and they find it difficult to open and show vulnerability. ‘Emotions are a liability. You don’t have to be a criminal to understand that. A quick glance at the emptiest, most desolate home Piet Hoffmann had ever visited. And right there, at that moment, they understood each other and were in complete agreement. That the ugliest, most dangerous enemy would always be loneliness.

Distinction between law and justice, ambiguous boundaries between classic bad guys and good guys, the law enforcers and criminals aren’t obvious just in the western world. The Albanian policeman is painfully aware of that: ‘Because in some cases justice and the law are two different things’

What I really enjoyed in this vast dramatic picture of power struggle was the journey into the criminal world of people who either found themselves as pawns in the big game or travelled specifically to Sweden to continue the arm trade and to spread violence. History of immigration from the Balkan countries, especially of the ex-Yugoslavian ethnic groups and establishing of new states in the region means that the Scandinavian dream often pulsates with the undercurrent of rage and anger. In this context decision that Hoffman, originally from Poland, must travel to Albania and so it becomes essential and urgent as it not only helps to deal with some of the huge problems facing the police but also demonstrates how the local people get drawn into the underground of socially accepted norms, some of them becoming major international players. Looking at the issues or problems of violence from inside, discovering the inner core, the engine room of the universe much bigger than the legal system in Sweden, adds grit, understanding and a degree of authenticity. In a similar vein Kati Hiekkapelto, the Finnish author of Anna Fekete series sends her heroine in The Exiled back to the Romanian / Hungarian place in northern Serbia from which she arrived in Finland to start a new life. Relativity within the legal system and the actual reality are shown with detailed perception.

Three days that Hoffman is given to save his family and solve an astonishing number of issues considering he has to rely on his own wits, previous experience, extensive yet invisible contacts while not contacting them at all. In a meantime Grens discovers superbly-executed clever revenge plan. Specific tasks within specified timeframe seem far fetched; however, in this excellent piece of fiction anything could be possible. And is. Novel’s narration is flawless, and so is the translation by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, making dark and unsettling Knock Knock one of the best books I’ve read this year.     

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