Until I´ve read this thriller, I had not known the author or read anything by him. Though the German edition looks a bit more intriguing, I couldn´t convince myself to read it right away. Not that I wasn´t interested in, no, it was more a time problem. So I let it pass by and when I found it a few months later at my library, I read it. The Swimmer is a thriller with the guarantee of reading pleasure. And is a lot of other things. There is a certain kind of edge in it. And you won´t get easy access to the main figure and you for certain will not discover the name of the protagonist, well, not, at first sight, that´s for sure.

The Swimmer*
by Joakim Zander
Klara Walldéen #1
Publisher Head of Zeus on January 29, 2015
Genre Thriller
Pages 417
Format Paperback
Source Library

Guilt. Atonement. Revenge. On a remote Swedish island, a little girl, Klara, grows up without a father. Now, twenty years later, she discovers a secret: a secret that powerful men will kill to keep hidden. On the other side of the world, an old spy hides from his past. He used to be the best agent in the field. These days the only thing he lives for is swimming in the local pool. Then, on Christmas eve, Klara is thrown into a terrifying chase across Europe. Only the Swimmer can save her. But time is running out …
A car bomb that was actually supposed to kill an American agent instead kills the love of his life and leaves him and their only a few weeks old baby girl totally helpless behind. To keep his daughter safe and alive and to give her the chance of an easygoing life, he brings her to her grandparents and disappears into the delusiveness world of his employer. Years later, his now grow- up daughter has to face a deadly game, and only he will be able to help her. But his help comes with a prize and it seems as if evil is winning the game.

The author has a clear, minimalist, and sober writing style. That is very refreshing and gives this thriller the special something. The story is set in a timeframe of three weeks and very complex. Sometimes things happen in different places but at the same time. The tension is built through fast scene changes and with different lines of action. Joakim Zander works with a concentrated writing style, a subliminal tone, and is very incisive if not to say rational. The complexity of the story builds a very ambitious thriller where the reader needs to use his own head to keep track of everything. And still, the author manages it, that the reader can relax and enjoy the story. Many details, precise descriptions, and the right feeling for the right mix of action, tension, and passion make The Swimmer an outstanding thriller of a low but in-depth sound. The story is told in parts from the point of view of the American agent and in some parts from the personal point of view by some other characters. Towards the end, both perspectives come together and the reader experiences a few scenes from the view of the American agent as well as from his daughter Klara.

Joakim Zander presents in this great thriller figures which show fascinating and frightening human abyss. Abyss, which were built through lust for power and an operation that got out of control let some of the figures literally grow above themselves while others are bending like blades of grass. Nothing seems as it is and the author proves once more, that a secret stays only a secret as long as it is only shared by a few. But secrets have an unpleasant character to become one day independent. And if that happens nothing is safe anymore; least of all a human life. How fragile and worthless life is or can become shows the author in a quiet and brutal way at the same time. A young woman is thrown into the war between the US and a secret underground organization. From one day to the other she has to fight for her life and become even smarter and refined than her enemy. The modern technology is all of a sudden her biggest enemy and the question whom she can trust is essential for survival. Joakim Zander is able with astonishing subtle means to show his figures profound and very believable. At some pages, he only needs a few adumbrations and few words and the reader gets the picture within seconds.

A completely haunting thriller that convinces through its intensity, the power, and strength of the main figures and a writing style that is far and beyond every Scandinavian style I´ve ever read. Any reader, who likes a high-class thriller with a few edges, will find here its pleasure for sure. Clear recommendation.

Happy reading

Joakim Zander
Joakim Zander ©Emil Malmborg

Joakim Zander, born 1975 in Stockholm, grew up in Söderköping on the Swedish coast and lived in Syria, Israel, and the US. He spent ten years working in Brussels as a lawyer and now lives with his wife and their two children in Lund, Sweden, where he writes full time.  His first novel The Swimmer has been sold to 30 countries around the world. He was nominated for the Swedish Crime Award with his second book, The Brother.



  1. What you said about the writing style really grabbed me -- that sort of writing can really make a book ten times better. And added, a short time frame.

    1. Thanks a lot for this nice compliment. Yes, reading this book felt like started and finished within no time :-)


Note: By submitting your commentar, you accept that the comment you write, and the personal information associated with it (e.g. username, email address, linked profile on Google/Wordpress) will be transmitted to Google servers. You can find more information in my privacy policy and in Google´s Privacy Policy.

Hinweis: Mit dem Abschicken deines Kommentars akzeptierst du, dass der von dir geschriebene Kommentar und die personenbezogenen Daten, die damit verbunden sind (z.B. Username, E-Mail-Adresse, verknüpftes Profil auf Google/Wordpress) an Google-Server übermittelt werden. Weitere Informationen dazu findest du in meiner Datenschutzerklärung und in der Datenschutzerklärung von Google.