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LIFETIME
by Liza Marklund and Neil Smith, trans.
Atria, April 2013
369 pages
$25.00
ISBN: 1451606974


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Annika Bengtzon's life is complicated. She has separated from her philandering husband, had barely escaped with her children when their house was destroyed by arson, and is working at a newspaper that is hemorrhaging jobs. But when an ex-policewoman who she had once profiled is accused of murdering her husband, himself a high-ranking and well-regarded law enforcement official, Annika rigs up temporary living quarters and sets out to interview the accused woman's former partner, Nina Hoffman, who was among the first on the scene.

Everything points to Julia Lindholm's guilt, but she is traumatized and incoherent, unable to comprehend what has happened. She not only can't explain how her service weapon could have been used in the murder of her husband, she can't tell authorities where their young son is. As Annika learns about the couple's relationship, alarm bells go off. There was something controlling and even sadistic about David Lindholm. With a bit of digging, Annika uncovers evidence that he was not the upstanding police officer everyone assumes. Men who filed complaints against him for unnecessary force had mysteriously dropped their charges just as the cases were set to go to trial. As the authorities grow closer to charging Julia with the murder of her husband and four-year-old son, Annika delves into the victim's past while trying to find out what happened to the boy.

Fans of the Annika Bengtzon series will be happy to reconnect with the intrepid reporter and her dogged (if hardly dispassionate) pursuit of the truth. As in previous entries in this series, the heroine's chaotic personal life and her emotional response to her failed marriage and the stress of balancing motherhood and a demanding profession are prominent feature of the story. Another plot thread concerns her husband, who is working on a shady government proposal to change the judicial guidelines for life sentences. The authentic newsroom setting of Annika's work is a particular strength of the series. The fact that Annika's boss has been ordered to make massive cuts in the paper's staff adds a degree of suspense while providing perspective on the state of the news business.

In the end, the prickly, emotional, and vulnerable Annika takes a back seat to her identity as a confident and professional journalist. Similarly, the novel is at its best when the mystery nudges the personal

drama into the background and takes center stage.

Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, columnist, and author of the Anni Koskinen mystery series.

Reviewed by Barbara Fister, April 2013

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