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Search tags: joakim-zander
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review 2019-06-16 22:43
Unrelenting Tension Reels the Reader In
The Swimmer - Joakim Zander

Excellent novels coming out of Scandinavia continue to enjoy international popularity at the moment and this terrific debut by Joakim Zander (2013) is further testament as to why. An unashamed spy thriller, “The Swimmer” exploits for the reader a dynamic plot, which links strong characters across a complex web of time and place, grappling with circumstances typically not of their making. Certainly there are echoes of the ‘Nordic noir’, particularly when a key character (Klara Walldéen) heads home to St. Anna’s Outer Archipelago in Northern Sweden, but the tale spins effortlessly between contemporary Europe and the USA, taking in historical, interlinked events in Afghanistan, Syria and Kurdistan along the way. Clearly the author has utilised his experience as a former lawyer working in the European Union to create vividly convincing scenes within the corridors of power in Brussels, where the reader finds Klara employed as assistant to an ambitious MEP. However, the involvement of a lobbyist and unidentified security services develops a wonderfully clandestine backdrop where ‘the truth’ is continuously manipulated to maintain a plausible public narrative. Indeed it is the grinding of tectonic political forces, which threaten to engulf relatively powerless individuals and discard them as tolerable collateral damage.


Unknown to her, Klara’s childhood spent in happy, obscure isolation with her grandparents was intended to shield her from the loss of her Swedish mother and the absence of her anonymous American father. Moreover, it was calculated to put her beyond the reach of those with a vested interest in silencing witnesses to war-time atrocities. But, after completing her studies abroad at the LSE, as Klara starts out on a promising career, new and present dangers begin to surface and an unseen guardian begins to stir. Aside from the thrilling action and the growing body count, the book offers an interesting take on Klara’s past and present relationships, some apparently disposable, others intense and enduring and the testing of those ties amid life-threatening chaos.


The swimmer has lapsed into an uneasy retirement and sought to protect his daughter’s life chances from the taint of his secretive past. The fervent desire of forces wanting to shine a light on the barbarous activities committed in war must overcome those equally intent on burying the past, to maintain the current fragile peace, albeit perpetrators walk free. For those caught up in the ongoing aftermath, is it better to occupy the moral high ground, or to fashion a means to survive?


Joakim Zander has created a compelling book, threaded with tough female characters, hardened by life in the far north and an unexpected challenge for the macho professional groundlings. The author also poses subtle moral dilemmas, which permeate the book. However, though the twisting plot deliberately frays the nerves, it also delivers a satisfying denouement and a thoughtful afterburn, which is so often the hallmark of an exceptional read.

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text 2016-11-27 18:06
Reading progress update: I've read 234 out of 421 pages.
The Swimmer - Joakim Zander

this is one of those novels where people are being killed, while a few other people are surviving on the run...and it's still very mysterious as to why. but I like it--all the puzzle pieces. and at least Klara and Mahmoud are fast. and smart. maybe they have a chance to sort all this out for me.

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text 2016-11-27 01:35
Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 421 pages.
The Swimmer - Joakim Zander

exactly exactly the sort of Spy novel I've been starving for.

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text 2016-11-26 00:32
Reading progress update: I've read 2 out of 421 pages.
The Swimmer - Joakim Zander

okay, ladies, don't be mad, and follow my logic; I'm shirking on my "one Nonfiction book a month' rule, by reading this, more than I'm reneging on my plan to only read women writers until the end of the month. I really want to read this--and I am dying for a Spy novel--sooo, as my nonfiction choice was never, to my mind, locked in as a woman author, I'm gonna put this in as a substitute for nonfiction...and the book it's replacing was likely going to be by a man. and it's about the same length, so I will be getting to another book by a woman about when I would've been anyway. does any of that make sense? peeved, disappointed? I hope not. this is certainly not being caused by any kind of sourness over the choice of women authors I've made so far this month; things have gone great! no, I just left my Spy novel fixation go a little too long without satiation--so before I get to The Surgeon, or maybe Beloved Poison--both by ladies--I'm gonna substitute The Swimmer for my nonfiction dalliance of the month (apologies to all my nonfiction books). so I'm being a turncoat, just not in the ay it looks. ahem. feeling guilty...hope the book is good, takes my mind off this...

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text 2015-02-11 21:34
Another Book Came in the Mail
The Swimmer: A Novel - Joakim Zander

I don't know how I am getting these books but I'm not going to complain. I have only read for one publisher outside of NG before and this isn't them. I've had three books already this month from publishing houses. I guess they sold my name ? Well, good. LOL  

Anyone read this yet ?

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