Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Swimmer-Joakim Zander; Elizabeth Clark Wessel (translator)

The Swimmer
Joakim Zander; Elizabeth Clark Wessel (translator)
Harper, Feb 10 2015, $27.99
ISBN: 9780062337245

Retired and passively rusticating in Virginia, the guilt-ridden widower explains to his late wife why she died.  In the summer of 1980, they and their baby lived in Damascus where his real work was that of an undercover CIA field agent.  He was holding their child and looking out their apartment window as his spouse entered their car and turned on the ignition when it exploded.  The horrified husband knew he was the intended victim.

In the present at Sweden’s Uppsala University Ph.D. candidate Mahmoud “Moody” Shammosh researches the privatization of war for a book he is writing.  His brother in arms comrade Lindsman offers to sell him damaging documents from his CIA contractor days.  Moody, accompanied by the widower’s baby European Union Swedish aide Klara Walldéen, heads to Paris.  Obtaining proof of War, Inc. (nod more to the movie than the game) Moody and Klara flee for their lives.  However, those chasing after the couple failed to account for a reanimated father willing to die and kill to keep his baby safe (similar to Liam Neeson’s character in Taken).

Rotating perspective between the widower’s first person account of his activities that eventually killed his mate and his soul, and the present day third person viewpoint of the pair on the run, The Swimmer is a fascinating leisurely-paced thriller filled with surprising twists.  Each subplot is well written enabling the reader to understand the widower’s regret, guilt and need for redemption, and the peril the graduate student and the aide are in for from those wanting the contracting of war crimes kept secret.

Harriet Klausner

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