Named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy. A mass shooting has taken place at a prep school in Stockholm’s wealthiest suburb. Eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg has spent nine months in jail awaiting trial. Now the time has come for her to enter the courtroom.
...a remarkable new novel ... Giolito, who practiced law before she turned to fiction, writes with exceptional skill. She seems to know everything about Stockholm’s rich and the ways of teenage girls. Her story examines the corrosive effects of vast wealth ... It’s a long novel, perhaps a little too long, but always smart and engrossing. We race along to learn whether Maja’s lawyer can save her. Or whether, in fact, prison may be where she belongs. Giolito keeps us guessing a long time and the outcome, when it arrives, is just as it should be.
The novel is structured as a courtroom procedural, yet it clearly has ambitions beyond that, addressing Sweden’s underlying economic and racial tensions. Characters often conform to social as well as narrative type, and we can’t ignore the connections between the two ... the weakest sections of her story [are the ones] in which Maja recalls a series of lurid parties, tearful breakups and tense family dinners, and explores the ins and outs of Sebastian’s dime-store psychology. In the end, the novel’s emotional logic keeps it on a fairly conventional path, but it nonetheless points to issues beyond its own frame.
...astonishing ... In crafting a first-person narrative told by a school shooter, many authors would go too far, creating an overly likable character; Giolito masterfully walks this fine line, developing a protagonist whom readers will remain intrigued by and ambivalent about, but whom they won’t necessarily like. Giolito’s past as a lawyer and as a European Union official poke through the pages as she exposes the cutting racism that refugees in Europe endure, even in supposed left-wing-idyll Sweden. Praise must also go to translator Willson-Broyles, as the incisive language that’s on display here surely involves translation precision that’s second to none.