August, 2015. Young aspiring diplomat Jacob Seger arrives in Lebanon with a head full of dreams. He has left a murky past behind to embrace a promising future in diplomacy and the position as an intern at the Swedish embassy in Beirut is just the first step toward his new life. Or so he thinks. What Jacob doesn’t know is just how dramatic of a turn his life is about to take…
November, 2015. Klara Walldéen has returned to the Stockholm archipelago to bury her beloved grandfather. Her best friend Gabriella, Gabi, is of course by her side. But Gabi is distracted, and Klara senses immediately that something is wrong. When Gabi is arrested in an anti-terrorism sting operation in Stockholm, Klara knows her time has come: it is her turn to help her friend, the way Gabi has always helped her. After finding notes in Gabi’s purse mentioning a secret trip to Brussels to meet a young Swedish diplomat, Klara sets out to take her friend’s place in order to clear her name.
On his first night in Beirut, Jacob meets a handsome, mysterious man named Yassim in whose eyes Jacob sees his soul reflected. And so begins a passionate, obsessive relationship that clouds out everything else. But Yassim is elusive. He claims his job as a war photographer is what takes him across the border into Syria, but when a Swedish intelligence officer named Myriam confronts Jacob with the claim that Yassim is actually a terrorist, Jacob’s world is turned upside down. Who is he to believe? And what should he do? If he obeys Myriam and becomes a spy in her service, he must betray the man he loves. But if he disobeys, the future he has worked for years to build will be shattered. Faced with an impossible decision, Jacob chooses to follow his heart, and a heart-stopping cat and mouse game across Europe begins. When a large-scale terror plan is uncovered, Jacob must confront his own role in a complicated game he is wholly unprepared to handle.
In Brussels, the city she hasn’t returned to since the death of her ex-boyfriend and her father, Klara is reunited with George Lööw. To her surprise, the suave lobbyist has shed his slick exterior and decided to leave the shadowy workings of his previous job behind. In Brussels, George and Klara come face to face with a terrified Jacob, whom Gabi was apparently trying to help. Now they must decide whom to trust and how to save themselves while the noose tightens. Klara, George, and Jacob set o on a furious race across Europe in order to stop a pending terrorist attack and get to the bottom of who Yassim really is. As a dangerous adventure brings them together once again, Klara and George find themselves inexorably drawn to one another…
The Friend takes the reader on a gripping adventure, moving with a furious pace from Beirut, to Brussels, to Stock- holm. Zander paints a moving love story into the expertly plotted form of a breathless thriller that casts light on the complexities of international politics and the terror threat facing the world today.
In this elegant and action-packed sequel to international bestselling thrillers The Swimmer and The Brother, Joakim Zander wraps up the story of our fragile yet fierce heroine Klara Walldéen and proves once again that he is a rare master of the genre.
“For the last twenty years, Henning Mankell has set the standard for this genre. Now Joakim Zander does.”
“Joakim Zander’s new thriller The Friend is an incredibly thrilling tale. […] If you’re a fan of topical issues and lots of action, then Joakim Zander’s engaging thriller The Friend is definitely the book for you!”
Hallo Buch (DE)
“Zander has once again written an incredibly thrilling and competent crime novel about his protagonist Klara Walldéen.”
Der Kultur Blog (DE)
“At the start of Zander’s thought-provoking standalone sequel to The Swimmer and The Believer, aspiring diplomat Jakob Seger, an intern assigned to the Swedish embassy in Beirut, arrives in Lebanon in August 2015, several months before the nightmarish ISIS attacks in France. […] Thriller fans who enjoy flawed, achingly human characters won’t be able to put this one down.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (US)
“A moving love story and a gripping adventure, The Friend is an intelligent thriller that untangles the complexities of international politics and reveals the dark threats facing the world today.”
The Bookseller (UK)
“Swedish writer Joakim Zander is a truly polished thriller writer whose two former novels The Swimmer and The Brother move effortlessly between Europe and the Middle East, creating a sense of intrigue and contemporary espionage that is to be deeply lauded. His latest spectacular novel The Friend, the third in the Klara Walldeen series, again shows his skills at both building and sustaining a gripping story. And at the end of the fast-paced read, one is left wanting for more. […] Beirut is certainly not for the faint-hearted and Zander is adept at building up the atmosphere of this war-torn city that is at the same time a place of dark mystery, […] One can almost smell the damp emanating from the concrete, and alternately get a whiff of the heady aromas of the za’atar spice, the olive oil and the smell of freshly grilled kebabs in the myriad restaurants […] Zander has created an absolute winner in his latest – love, intrigue, a sense of right and wrong in a world where morals have developed different boundaries. His style is fabulously edgy and contemporary and he’s a real master in character building and in setting the scene for the different locales. A must read, and an intelligent one at that and, if you’re a lover of Homeland-style thrillers, well that’s a bonus.”
The Independent (ZA)
“The author controls his Beirut centered story with a superb sense for the possibilities of the political suspense novel.”
Jyllandsposten, 5/6 (DK)
“With The Friend, Joakim Zander finishes his outstanding trilogy about lawyer Klara Waldeen. […] There’s no way back for neither the protagonists nor the reader. You just have to read until the end. […] [Zander’s] cast of characters is authentic. He portrays his characters completely, even the things that hurt. Both for themselves and the reader. And he does so stunningly.”
Nordjyske Stiftstidene (DK)
“It’s a thrilling and well-written novel, and I feel slightly melancholic about the fact that Zander has reached the end of this trilogy.”
Fyens Stiftstidene (DK)
“A suspense novel that will be hard to forget. […] This is a high-class thriller. There’s love, war, spies, terrorism, threats, escapes – everything one can wish for. And once you start, you won’t put this book down.”
God Bog (DK)
“A solid look at spies, espionage and life in the middle east. The settings help make the story from Lebanon to Brussels to Sweden. The characters are well-defined and you find yourself rooting for Jacob to get through everything in one piece. My first time reading a novel by Joakim Zander and I am hooked. Look forward to future books from him.”
Red Carpet Crash (US)