Snow falls softly over a desolate playground. A fourteen-year-old boy lays face down in front of a swing-set as his life drains out of the gaping wound in his head. Behind him stands his best friend, a warm gun in his trembling hand.
Dogge is from affluent Rönnviken, Billy lives in the concrete towers of Våringe; only a few hundred yards across a highway, but a world apart. The boys met as six-year-olds at Rönnviken’s playground and have been unlikely best friends ever since. From the outside, Dogge looks privileged: he lives in a large one-family home and there is plenty of money – at first. But his parents are addicts suffering from mental health issues whose negligence toward their only son becomes a form of lonely abuse. Meanwhile, Billy’s family are poor first-generation immigrants unable to escape the no-go zone where they live, but their cramped one-bedroom apartment is nonetheless a bastion of love.
When gangs tighten their grip on Våringe, a ruthless small-time boss named Mehdi recruits young boys and both Dogge and Billy become runners by the time they are twelve years old. Fast cash, easy access to drugs, and the dream of gaining status draws them in. But when Billy wants to leave the gang and finds himself trapped, the children are forced to face the violent rules of the adult game they have tried to play.
When a job goes horribly wrong, Mehdi burdens the boys with a heavy debt that they are unable to pay. As the noose tightens, Billy decides he wants a different life and contacts Farid, a police officer who has known the boys all their lives. Farid promises to help Billy get back on track. But there is no easy way out of the gang, and Billy’s family gets wrapped up in Mehdi’s far-reaching tentacles. How are they going to pay Billy’s debt? And what can Dogge do when his one friend in the world cuts him out of his life? And so, when Mehdi delivers a final threat, Dogge pulls the trigger – killing the only friend he ever had.
In precise and piercing prose, Malin Persson Giolito weaves the web that ensnares both Dogge and Billy. The suspense escalates mercilessly as the police fumble and the gang’s brutal members make it impossible to hide. The grocer in the town square, the emergency responder, the local cop – no one is left untouched by the escalating violence taking over Stockholm’s struggling fringe communities.
When children commit horrible crimes, who bears responsibility? And what does it do to us all when we allow ourselves to view children as monsters? At the center of this gut-wrenching novel by one of Scandinavia’s foremost storytellers are the lost children: those we fail to catch before they fall between the cracks – whether due to negligence, poverty, or social alienation. Written with a breathless sense of urgency, Deliver Me is at once a poignant portrayal of the power of childhood friendship and a shattering depiction of what happens when a society fails to protect those that need it most. In the end, what does justice mean – and is the law capable of delivering it?
“Now that Malin Persson Giolito has a new suspense novel out it is hard to shake the high expectations – surely for the author, but also for the reader. As you open Deliver Me your bodily memory anticipates an immediate gut-punch. If it comes? Perhaps not on the very first page, but shortly thereafter. Perhaps not in the way you expected, but definitely just as forceful. […] Persson Giolito has crafted a community that feels and burns […] Every character is a skillfully and carefully depicted person with an important role to play, but Dogge is the one that leaves the greatest impression. It is physically painful to follow him and his desperate attempts at impressing his friend, his dad, or – tragically enough- himself. […] While the read is a punch to the gut, it is also a dense suspense novel, and it is absolutely impossible to put down.”
“There are books whose strength you just can’t hide from. This is such a book. It is about children who kill children. The depiction of what happens to the people in a community when gang violence takes over is written with relentless acuity. A story about two boys who meet as six-year-olds and their descent into criminality. This book holds the same high level as her award-winning courtroom drama Quicksand.”
Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet (SE)
“Persson Giolito’s prose is incredibly clever, with sharp contours and linguistic beauty. That in itself is a lifebuoy in the river of tedious crime fiction, but she also aims for more than mere entertainment. She presents the reader with a moral and legal dilemma […] Malin Persson Giolito is decidedly one of the most interesting Swedish crime writers right now.”
“With the book (and later the Netflix series) Quicksand, Malin Persson Giolito got her real breakthrough. Deliver Me fortifies her position as one of the most skilled portrayers of our contemporary moment. […] Persson Giolito efficiently conveys the tragic and structural dynamics that cause these boys to quickly get sucked deeper and deeper into a criminal lifestyle. It is both thrilling and moving.”
“Giolito takes the reader deep into a dark existence that one would wish was a heavily exaggerated dystopia. Unfortunately, this plot could take place anywhere in Sweden today. This is the exact reason why you should read Giolito. She has created an important and eloquently written contemporary document – one we have to relate to, whether we want to or not.”
Borås Tidning (SE)
“You can tell that Persson Giolito has strived not to confirm stereotypes in this novel. […] Persson Giolito’s stylistic skill and tone: she has a language that holds so much elegance and perfect pitch that, despite differences in temper and style, calls to mind Åsa Larsson when it comes to quality. Moreover, Deliver Me more than Quicksand is characterized by its open, understanding gaze, by a sincerity that can only be described as warmth. It may be an odd thing to say about a book that in nearly every way is a portrayal of fathomless darkness and despair, but it makes it no less true. […] There’s a care here, that encompasses everything from the language, the sentence structure, to the portrayal of people who in one way or another are in the hands of the tyranny of class and patriarchy. Consider that it’s possible to write about a polarized and partly torn apart society also in such a way. […] It’s uplifting, in the midst of all the darkness.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)
“It’s spot-on, current, societally critical, and incredibly moving. And it should be read by anyone dealing with children – teachers, night patrol volunteers, social workers, parents, counsellors… in fact, it should be read by everyone. […] Deliver Me is [Persson Giolito’s] most important book.”
Alingsås Tidning (SE)
“Malin Persson Giolito skillfully weaves together a vast and desperate image of a society where it’s so easy to fall, and so hard to get up again, where young people so often are let down by the adult world […] Malin Persson Giolito does this so well she makes me cry over a story that could very well have been true. […] She makes right and wrong and crime and punishment just as complicated as it is.”
Skånska Dagbladet (SE)
“Malin Persson Giolito once again shows that she’s a skilled storyteller, and Deliver Me is a well-constructed, engaging, and deeply sad suspense novel with great pacing.”
Sveriges Radio Kulturnytt (SE)
“Malin Persson Giolito skillfully conjures the image of the boys’ lives, and tells us of absent fathers and powerless mothers, and about the ideals that are obvious in an area where no one is more successful than the gangster boss Mehdi. […] Malin Persson Giolito is an incredibly gifted storyteller; every individual feels authentic and she knows what she’s talking about, being a lawyer with detailed knowledge of crime herself. Deliver Me becomes a testament of a society that has ceased to function, where those who are able to bring about change are too preoccupied with building walls against the scum to solve the problems or help those who are affected.”
Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter (SE)