Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Review published on May 9, 2017.

Quicksand was the winner of Sweden’s Best Crime Novel 2016, and it has been given a billing in the English language of being a cross between The Secret History and We Need to Talk about Kevin, as well as being suggested as a “must read” that fans of Serial and Making a Murderer. I would like to add that any lover of Scandi Noir will find Quicksilver highly addictive and completely engrossing.

Maja Norberg is 18 years old and she is standing trial for murder or, more correctly, for a number of murders and the incitement of others at her school, as well as the death of her boyfriend’s father in his home. She has spent the last nine months in prison awaiting trial and she has been found guilty in the court of public opinion and the newspapers before a word has been spoken in court.

There are two very clear narratives in this thriller, both from the point of view of Maja, one of the ongoing court case and her incarceration awaiting trial, and the other concerning her relationships with her family, boyfriend and her best friend Amanda. All she can remember from the day is being carried out of the classroom with only a bruise surrounded by blood and death. Both narratives give Maja a voice for both good and evil while being provocative at the same time.

We see Maja’s relationships with all the other characters, and at times she can be both annoying while being child-like when explaining what happened. Typical of all dark Sandi thrillers, there are some lighter moments to make Maja seem stronger than she comes across in court. You are alone with her in her cell as she thinks back to her interpersonal relationships, could she or should she have done things differently? She knows she killed her boyfriend and her best friend but did she mean it? She cannot or does not want to remember.

As the prosecution sets out its case, Maja sits silently as she listens to the evidence and her thoughts run wild as she does so. Is the prosecutor correct or is her defence lawyer? She questions both in her mind as the case continues. She certainly does not want to turn around and see her parents or anyone else who has packed into the court room.

As you read Quicksand, you will want to know more, you will want to get ahead and find out what the verdict of the court is. This is a mystery suspense thriller that is totally seductive in that you want Maja to be found not guilty but you cannot guarantee that would be the right verdict. This is a wonderful narrative between good and evil, and you will be provoked by the subject matter, a classroom full of dead teenagers and teachers. There is a tension throughout the novel and you do not get any release until the very last sentence. Quicksand is utterly brilliant. It is one of the finest thrillers I have read in a while.

Paul Diggett 5/5

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
Simon & Schuster UK 9781471160325 hbk Apr 2017

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