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Saturday, February 12, 2011

BOX 21

by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom - available in paperback

BOX 21 is another gritty Swedish thriller from the authors of THREE SECONDS (which I reviewed in December).  

Written before THREE SECONDS, this novel is the story of Lydia and Alena, two beautiful young girls from Lithuania, who were enticed to Sweden with the promise of good jobs and a better life.  Instead, they were two more victims of human trafficking and were quickly locked away, beaten and sexually abused repeatedly and used as prostitutes. 

When Lydia is beaten injured, the police intervene and we're reintroduced to Det. Inspector Ewert Grens, the sad and lonely protagonist from THREE SECONDS.  Hospitalized for her injuries, Lydia is aided by Alena in obtaining a weapon and explosives and, after taking hostages in the hospital, she demands to talk to Bengt Nordwall, Grens' longtime friend and colleague. The hostage situation is quickly out of control, and coincides with Grens' hope of finally arresting the man who destroyed his life when he permanently injured Anni, Grens' love and fellow officer many years before.

All of the evidence Lydia has amassed about the horrors she and Alena endured are on a videotape in Box 21 at the Central Rail Station.  But Grens has to make a tortured decision about who is best served by revealing the evidence, risking his career in the process.

Once again Roslund and Hellstrom have lifted the veil on a small part of the bleak underbelly in Sweden as well as the hopelessness of actually stopping the flow of human trafficking.  Missing was a more in-depth view of Grens' character, but BOX 21, though not as intricate as THREE SECONDS, was still a compelling mystery.

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