A thriller that anticipates the problems of rare minerals

A thriller that anticipates the problems of rare minerals

Always nice when a thriller ties in with current events. In mid-January, reports emerged of a large concentration of rare earth metals found in Kiruna, a mining town in northern Sweden. An important discovery, because these chemical elements play a crucial role in the manufacture of all kinds of technological equipment, from night vision goggles and precision-guided weapons to powerful magnets for wind turbines and electric cars. Politicians and manufacturers reacted happily; Europe is still dependent on China for these raw materials. Environmentalists were concerned about the extraction and refining of minerals.

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The discovery of rare metals in northern Sweden could have far-reaching geopolitical consequences

The iron mine of the Swedish mining company LKAB in Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden.  It is also Europe's largest known deposit of rare earth elements.

The Swedish former journalist Bo Svernström (1964) appears in his thriller, published in January First come to anticipate the problem. The CEO of a Swedish mining company has been kidnapped. When the police find him murdered in his summer house, there are also the bodies of two of the three climate extremists suspected of the kidnapping. In a cupboard in the house, the police find a blind, blood-stained woman. Her confused testimony is the key clue in the case.

First come is the third adventure about Chief Inspector Carl Edson. The previously published volumes have similarly curious titles: Who wants revenge and Who is without sin. They have nothing to do with the original Swedish titles. Svernström mentioned his latest book Det man inte ser‘That which you do not see’, a clear reference to the blind woman in the closet.

As befits Swedish thrillers, Commissioner Edson is a divorced, somewhat troubled detective. He cautiously dates a pathologist. When she tries to figure out why Edson is hunting killers, he says, “No one gets their life back because we caught the killer and I don’t even think it’s particularly deterrent to others, but I do believe that parents, friends, children […] get some kind of satisfaction.’

Svernström is yet another Swedish crime writer who excels in subcutaneous tension and psychological depth. He has no shortage of exciting plot twists and he regularly manages to surprise. For example, when a detective from Edson’s team visits a mother whose son has been charged with rape and arson. When asked when she last saw her son, the woman answers: ‘That was when he lived with me, nine or ten years ago. Listen, I’ll be honest with you. I do not like him. Okay? I don’t have to love him just because I happen to be his mother, do I?’

On the way to the station, the detective wonders how a mother can be so brutally honest about her son. And then he realizes that he probably would have reacted differently if it had been a father who had distanced himself from his child.

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