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The Andalucian Friend
Cover of The Andalucian Friend
The Andalucian Friend
Brinkmann Trilogy, Book 1
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Enemies are everywhere in this monumental international crime thriller that Brad Thor calls "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Sopranos." Hector Guzman has fooled many women. With his quiet...
Enemies are everywhere in this monumental international crime thriller that Brad Thor calls "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Sopranos." Hector Guzman has fooled many women. With his quiet...
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Description-

  • Enemies are everywhere in this monumental international crime thriller that Brad Thor calls "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Sopranos."

    Hector Guzman has fooled many women. With his quiet charm, easy smile, and smooth demeanor it's easy to fall into his trap, and Sophie Brinkmann, a widowed single mother, is no exception. She quickly learns, though, that his sleek façade masks something sinister.
    Guzman is the head of a powerful international crime ring with a reach into drugs and weaponry that extends from Europe to South America. His interests are under siege by a ruthless German syndicate who will stop at nothing to stake its claim. But the Guzmans are a family of fighters and will wage war to protect what's rightfully theirs. When Sophie is unwittingly caught in the crossfire, she must summon everything within her to navigate the intricate web of moral ambiguity, deadly obsession, and craven gamesmanship.

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One

    There was something about her that made some people say she didn't look like a nurse, and she could never figure out if this was a compliment or an insult. She had long, dark hair and a pair of green eyes that sometimes gave the impression that she was about to burst out laughing. She wasn't; that was just the way she looked, as if she had been born with a smile in her eyes.

    She went down the stairs, which creaked beneath her feet. The house --a fairly small, yellow wooden villa built in 1911, with leaded windows, shiny old parquet floors, and a garden that could have been bigger --was her place on this earth, she realized that the first time she saw it.

    The kitchen window was open to the still spring evening. The smell coming through the window was more summer than spring. Summer wasn't supposed to arrive for several weeks, but the heat had come early and not wanted to leave. Now it was just hanging there, heavy and completely still. She was grateful for it, needed it, enjoyed being able to have her windows and doors open --being able to move freely between outside and in.

    There was the sound of a moped in the distance, a thrush was singing in a tree --other birds too, but she didn't know their names.

    Sophie got out the china and set the table for two, with the best plates, nicest cutlery, and the finest glasses, avoiding the workaday as best she could. She knew she would be eating alone, seeing as Albert ate when he was hungry, which seldom coincided with her timing. She heard his steps on the stairs --sneakers on old oak wood; a bit too heavy, a bit too hard --Albert wasn't bothered by the noise he was making. She smiled at him as he came into the kitchen; he smiled back boyishly, yanked open the fridge door, and stood there for far too long, staring at the contents.

    "Shut the fridge, Albert."

    He stood where he was; she ate for a while, idly leafing through a newspaper, then she looked up, said the same thing again, this time with a hint of irritation in her voice.

    "I can't move . . . ," he whispered theatrically.

    She laughed, not so much at his dry sense of humor but more because he was just funny, which made her happy . . . proud, even.

    "How was your day?" she asked.

    She could see he was close to laughter. She recognized the signs, he always thought his own jokes were funny. Albert took a bottle of mineral water from the fridge, slammed the door, and jumped up onto the kitchen counter. The carbon dioxide hissed as he unscrewed the top.

    "Everyone's mad," he said, taking a sip. Albert started to tell her about his day in small fragments as they occurred to him. She listened and smiled as he made fun of the teachers and other people. She could see he enjoyed being amusing, then suddenly he was done. Sophie could never figure out when this was going to happen; he would just stop, as if he had gotten fed up with himself and his sense of humor. And she felt like reaching out to him to ask him to stay, carry on being funny, carry on being human, friendly, and mean at the same time. But that wasn't how it worked. She'd tried before and it had gone wrong, so she let him go.

    He disappeared into the hall. A short silence; maybe he was changing his shoes.

    "You owe me a thousand kronor," he said.

    "What for?"

    "The cleaning lady came today."

    "Don't say 'cleaning lady.'"

    She heard the zip of his jacket.

    "So what should I say?"

    She didn't know. He was on his way out through the door.

    "Kiss, kiss, Mom," he said, his tone suddenly gentle.

    The door closed...

About the Author-

  • Alexander Söderberg has worked as a television screenwriter and lives in the countryside in the south of Sweden with his wife and children. The Andalucian Friend is his first novel.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 7, 2013
    Söderberg’s excellent debut, the first in a projected trilogy, chronicles a global turf war among Spanish drug runners, German gangsters, Russian hit men, and Swedish cops. Caught up in this chaos is nurse Sophie Brinkmann, whose life since the death of her husband has revolved around her 15-year-old son and her work at a Stockholm hospital. A patient of hers, Hector Guzman, unleashes long-dormant emotions by taking her to restaurants and a poetry reading, as well as by introducing her to his family. Hector, a Spanish publisher, also leads a crime syndicate, which has ties to a transatlantic drug trade and is at war with rival gangs. Sophie becomes the target of Gunilla Strandberg and her unscrupulous squad of police detectives, who will do anything to get at Hector. The jam-packed plot’s big-picture view of politics, business, and an international crime ring illustrates how being surrounded by violence affects individuals. While Sophie is an innocent, she is no pushover. Her inner resolve helps her maneuver in precarious situations. Fans of Nordic thrillers will find much to like. Agent: Leyla Belle Drake, the Salmonsson Agency.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2013

    Sophie Brinkmann loves her teenage son, her nursing job, and her beautiful cottage in the suburbs of Stockholm. But the day Hector Guzman is rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and multiple fractures, her life changes. But is it for the better for Sophie? While she grows increasingly enamored of Hector, fascinated by his hold over her, and curious about his mysterious life, her own life becomes a subject of greater investigation. Cajoled into spying on Hector's business dealings by a subversive police unit, Sophie herself is tailed, bugged, and harassed. Though her son's life is endangered, her job in peril, and her once placid life increasingly threatened, Sophie cannot extricate herself from Hector's world. When a long-lost love reappears within Hector's circuit, Sophie's submersion in a European underworld of guns, drugs, and extortion seems even more rooted. VERDICT This first volume of a projected trilogy is brimming with characters, subplots, betrayals, and tragedies. Yet Soderberg's decision to weave these facets into each other--each chapter contains multiple narrators, perspectives, and dramatic arcs--leads to an ultimately overwhelming and overwrought tale. What begins as a thrilling adventure through the Swedish criminal underworld gradually becomes an exhausting, cynical trek teeming with extreme violence. Still, some hard-core fans of Scandinavian mysteries may want to try this thriller.--Jennifer Rogers, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond, VA

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 1, 2013
    Get ready for another round of hype in which one more heavily promoted Scandinavian thriller will be touted as the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's a shame, really, because this gripping crime novel, the first in a trilogy, deserves to stand completely on its own. Yes, it's set largely in Stockholm, and, yes, it stars a woman of remarkable strength and resiliency, but Sderberg, a veteran screenwriter, is a very different kind of writer than investigative journalist Larsson; this novel is much faster paced than Dragon Tattoo, and while the multiple characters are richly complex, the narrative rumbles ever forward without Larsson's emphasis on backstory and research techniques. When we first meet Sophie Brinkman, an unassuming nurse and single mother, she seems the polar opposite of Lisbeth Salander. That changes slowly but inexorably after Sophie gets to know one of her patients, the suave Hector Guzman, a charming family man but alsoas Sophie eventually discoversthe head of an international crime ring. (Comparisons to the Corleone family are also inevitable and not entirely unjustified.) Soon enough, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a gang war as Guzman's family battles a rival Russian contingent. Throw in a gaggle of rogue cops and Sophie's old boyfriend, who turns up out of nowhere with a history of his own, and you have a multistranded plot that holds together as exquisitely as finely wound silk. But, as with the Larsson trilogy, it's the woman at the center who sparks the engine. By novel's end, Sophie has realized that she was bigger than she had dared to see. We see it, too, and are ready to follow her anywhere. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sderberg's novel was the smash of the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair, and movie rights have already been sold. Promotion plans for the novel's release will take full advantage of the book's international success.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • USA Today "Epic... The Andalucian Friend is a crime novel that mixes familial drama -- the Guzman crime family is drawing comparisons to Mario Puzo's Corleones -- gang wars, the illegal gun trade, break-the-rules cops and unspeakable violence...The scope of this novel is sometimes astounding and always fascinating."
  • Los Angeles Times "Scandinavian crime fiction finds a new voice in Alexander Söderberg. . .[a] dark, intricate debut novel."
  • The New York Times Book Review "An enjoyably offbeat thriller about rival gangs fighting over an international drug-smuggling route. . .[Söderberg] writes with feeling about the crushing psychological stress felt by both cops and criminals."
  • BookPage "A tale of cutthroat mob bosses. . .Söderberg writes exceptionally well-drawn and sympathetic characters . . . and has the chops to move a story along with the best of them."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Excellent. . .[A] jam-packed plot."

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