Reviewed by E. B. Heath
When reviewing a thriller, above all else, a writer must stay well clear of spoiler territory. For that reason there is not too much that can be written about the plot or theme of this particular book, even if the review comes up short.
So I might metaphorically consider reading Fredrik T. Olsson’s Acts of Vanishing as a gripping literary mountain climb. At base camp you notice its heft, weighing in at four hundred and fifty-five pages its depth a towering three and a half centimeters. This is the time to take heart; remind yourself that you have already conquered the giddy heights of War and Peace or perhaps the complete Harry Potter series. And so you trudge on and upwards in the snow that is engulfing Sweden, the view is misty and mainly blanked out and you really can’t comprehend much at all. But it’s clear that sadness and fear is leaking out everywhere.
Characters are being introduced in flurries of activity, sometimes it’s hard to keep track. They’re in Sweden, London and Poland and some of the British ones are also in Sweden helping to fix a mounting catastrophe. William Sandberg, a brilliant encryption expert working for Swedish defense has recently been sacked because he used classified information when trying to find his missing daughter, Sara. Recently separated from his wife Christina, who is editor of a major Swedish newspaper, he trolls the streets looking for Sara. He responds to a mysterious message, from an unknown sender to attend a meeting hoping it’s something to do with Sara. From this point the mountainous plot becomes absorbing. Before it becomes gripping the reader might notice a few typos on page 24 (an extra ‘you’) and page 152 (they room instead of the room), not to worry, just a slight blip to keep readers on their toes. I wont say exactly why, but William Sandberg is a wanted man, police are pursuing him, as it seems he is in the frame for a dastardly act against the state. As if that wasn’t enough, it becomes apparent that someone is trying to kill him. And that ‘someone’ has already managed to murder two other people, who mysteriously roam the perimeters of the plot. Sandberg is not entirely alone, which is just as well, because this complicated scenario is as slippery and dense as the ice and fog that physically engulfs Sweden.
The reader could feel slightly dizzy as the plot switches from Sweden, to Poland, occasionally blowing into London, it is going to take effort to make this climb, but it is worth it. When the summit has been achieved the vista is of a most intriguing concept.
But that’s not the end of it; there is the descent to manage and it’s problematic. It feels a bit sad to leave this view/concept behind, although I don’t think the idea of it will ever leave the reader’s mind. Maybe it is a vision from our future.
Fredrik T. Olsson planned to be an actor. He wrote and performed in revues and comedies, before leaving Göteborg for Sweden to study acting. When work didn’t materialize he wrote scripts for television and film, occasionally performing stand-up comedy. Olsson’s first book Chain of Events sold in 25 countries.
By Fredrik T. Olsson
Paperback $29.99; 480pp