Cover image for Into a raging blaze
Into a raging blaze
Norman, Andreas, 1972- author.
Uniform Title:
Rasande eld. English
Publication Information:
New York : Quercus, 2014.
Physical Description:
470 pages ; 24 cm
When a young woman employed by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs finds herself in possession of documents revealing plans for a pan-European intelligence service with questionable objectives, she draws the attention of both SAPO, Sweden's intelligence agency, and Britain's MI6.
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Andreas Norman, a former diplomat in Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was deeply involved in counter-terrorism work and Sweden's role in the Arab Spring. In his debut novel, Into a Raging Blaze, Norman uses his insider knowledge to create a mesmerizing espionage thriller that reverberates with authenticity.
In September 2011, things are going well for Carina Dymek. The intelligent, determined young woman has expertly carried out her duties as EU Coordinator for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A promotion is likely any day now.
She's moved past her divorce and found true love in the arms of Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian-Swedish national. And she's been chosen to represent Sweden at an international meeting in Brussels on joint security policy. But she gets far more than she bargained for at the conference, when a nervous-looking man who only identifies himself as "Jean" approaches her during the lunch break outside and presses a USB storage device into her hand with little explanation. Carina is shocked and disturbed by what the contents of the letter reveal: High-level plans for a new pan-European intelligence service, bound by few if any national laws or international rules of conduct in its surveillance, arrest, and interrogation protocols. And its objectives are equally questionable, with a clear agenda to curb foreign immigration into the EU, and freely violate civil rights for the sake of pre-empting Arab terrorism.
When Carina dutifully presents the documents to her superiors at the MFA, they are not happy. Before long Carina is suspended, escorted from the building by security, and under investigation by SAPO, Sweden's Intelligence Agency. Initially SAPO agent Bente Jensen--another strong, resourceful woman--focuses on the question of how a rank-and-file MFA employee obtained this ticking time bomb of intelligence.
The stakes rise for both Carina and Bente when the British MI6 muscles in to Sweden, intent on affecting a quick resolution to the situation--and by any means necessary. They're particularly interested in Dymek's connection to Badawi, whom they know to be the nephew of a Muslim Brotherhood leader under numerous counterterrorism investigations. MI6 wants Badawi's uncle, and they want to be sure anyone with information about the secret intelligence service is definitively silenced. So when they learn of Carina's relationship with Jamal, they see a possible opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
In the tradition of the classics works of espionage fiction, this gripping debut novel captures the ways in which spies and diplomats are occasionally swept up into the grinding gears of international intelligence operations--often with devastating human costs.

Author Notes

Andreas Norman worked for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years on security issues and counterterrorism. He has also worked for the Swedish think-tank UI and published a book of poetry.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* At a European Union committee meeting, Swedish diplomat Carina Dymek passionately condemns racist undertones in border-security proposals, capturing the attention of a mysterious EU representative who praises her conscience and secretively slips her a USB drive. The drive's contents are unsettling and dangerous: top-secret EU proposals to create a common espionage unit without knowledge of representative countries' elected officials. Carina dutifully passes it along to her superiors and her boyfriend, Jamal Badawi, an attorney at the Ministry of Justice. Within hours, she's plunged into a maelstrom of high-stakes espionage, fleeing from Säpo, the Swedish security service, with the document. Bente Jensen, head of Sweden's covert counterespionage unit, evaluates MI6 intelligence that Carina is a terrorist, recruited by Jamal on orders from his uncle, who is linked to a violent faction of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bente is skeptical about the allegations, and she carefully sidesteps the official mission and investigates Carina's role, racing to discover what's really behind MI6's allegations before either of them is killed. Norman weaves EU politics, the dark reality of diplomacy, and modern espionage techniques together with a classic thriller story, creating a detailed, thoughtful exploration of ethics and sacrifices in the era of the War on Terror and WikiLeaks. Fully dimensional characters humanize this thriller, and readers will be intrigued by the European perspective on international power, which blurs the role of the U.S. as the good guy.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Norman, a former diplomat in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brings his expertise to his intermittently compelling first novel, a spy thriller. At a routine conference in Brussels, an E.U. Commission staffer leaks information to Carina Dymek, a midlevel Swedish bureaucrat, about a plan to create the European Intelligence Service, a kind of CIA for Europe. Carinas choice to tell her boss of this plan lands her in a world of trouble, which is compounded by the possible connection of her boyfriend, Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian-born Swedish citizen, to the Muslim Brotherhood. Swedish intelligence, in the person of the tenacious Bente Jensen, is charged with discovering exactly what Carina and Jamal are up to-including the possibility that theyre involved in an imminent terrorist attack. Repetitive and often polemical detail may put off some readers (the author clearly thinks the EIS is a bad idea), but the action and tradecraft are good, and the book generates some real momentum. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. At a meeting abroad, Carina Dymek, a Swedish civil servant, is approached by a stranger who gives her a USB memory stick containing a secret, very disturbing European Union Commission report. When Carina sends the report on to her boss, she finds herself suddenly suspended from her job. The authorities don't believe her when she tells how she got the document. In no time at all, Carina and her Egyptian Swedish lover are the objects of a full-strength antiterrorism operation. Enter a Swedish spy catcher who goes along with the hunt at first but gradually becomes suspicious. SAPO agent Bente Jensen suspects Sweden's partners in espionage, Britain's MI6 and America's CIA, are gaming her government. For their own reasons, the agencies don't want anyone to find out about this document. How can Carina derail the juggernaut they have unleashed? VERDICT Norman, a former diplomat in Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has written a first-rate debut thriller that asks: Who watches the watchers if they don't choose to be seen? The narrative starts slow but doesn't take long to build up speed. From then on, watch out!-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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