Karjel has a gift for the telling detail that reveals a broader story ... Every corner of this rich, rewarding novel features one or another subversion of stereotypes ... All this confounding of expectations is admirable, but that doesn’t necessarily equal enjoyable; in some authors’ hands, subversion can be buffoonery, and admirable can be didactic and tedious. Karjel’s characters, however, are nuanced, their relationships complex and the background texture evocative; his subversions are of a delicious flavor ... The plot? Not this novel’s particular strength. Although the setups are plausible and gripping, characters make too many credulity-straining choices that are explicable only in the contrived service of heightening drama, and the strands begin to fray as resolution approaches ... And in a novel replete with unusual characters and thought-provoking themes, there’s paradoxically not much in the way of plot twists. Still, Karjel offers ample pleasures along the way.
After the Monsoon is a multi-layered international thriller that eschews easy answers to our modern conflicts while also centering the humanity of its protagonist in such a way that we readers never forget that real people—not cardboard cutouts or cartoon superhumans—risk their lives and their humanity to protect and preserve us. It’s a devastatingly realistic critique of modern espionage and warfare made more intriguing by its decidedly unique perspective amidst the macho posturing of most popular thrillers today.
The book never attains the Robert Stone–like moral complexity it aims for. But Karjel skillfully handles the twin narratives, which at first run parallel and then circle each other, and maintains a quiet intensity throughout ... Karjel's second novel to be translated into English is a solid, dependable work that makes us believe in its characters and situations; the author brings firsthand knowledge to his unusual story of Swedes in Africa.