Thursday, 1 November 2012

Strindbergs stjärna (Strindberg’s star) by Jan Wallentin

This is a sort of Swedish ‘Da Vinci code’. The first book of journalist Jan Wallentin and sold to at least 14 other countries, so if you are lucky it might be available in your language. It is an easy read and difficult to put down. I finished it in no time at all.

The story begins when a diver discovers a body in a mine shaft in Dalarna in the middle of Sweden. Due to the air deep down in the ground the body is well
preserved. It takes a little bit of time before the authorities are discovering that the body is over hundred years old. The dead person carried with him a specific cross. Once this information is spread it sets in motion actions from organizations and persons who know more than we do on the symbolism of it. The cross is a key to open up secrets and other worlds and people are prepared to kill to get hold of it.

The Da Vinci part in the story is replaced by the Swedish physician Nils Strindberg. He was a famous physicist at the time and also one of the participants in Andrée’s polar expedition in 1897. The expedition tried to reach the pole by using an air balloon. Unfortunately, the preparations for the expedition might not have been perfect and all three explorers died in their efforts to reach the pole. Their bodies were not found until 30 years later.

Out of this the writer has woven a story of mysterious discoveries, secret codes, mad(?) scientists and as the lead role a middle aged, addictive history professor.

Our hero, although not one who we would directly indentify as such, gets involved by chance. He is accused of murder, is kidnapped and gets a story that he has difficulties believing in. However, having come this far there is now way back. The quest for answers takes him on a tour of Europe; from Sweden to Belgium, Germany and Russia. The places are well described and myself a Swede living in Belgium recognize the places described.

With a lot of these kinds of books it seems that the authors always choose to go a little bit out of this world with their endings. The plots are of course – as we know from Dan Brown’s book – unbelievable in themselves, however, you could get away with it if the endings was not so out of reach. It is the same here. You are eagerly waiting for the answers and when they come they are a little(?) bit out of reality.

As concerns me, I still love these kinds of books. Especially when a historic event is used to weave a story around, I am lost!

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