We don't know about you, but when we think of powerhouse spy agencies, about the last place that comes to mind is Sweden.
But that's where Norman, a former Swedish bureaucrat, sets this tale.
That puts him at a handicap right from the get go, just as it would someone attempting a hot romance novel set in Prussia or a yarn about great military exploits based on the Italian Armed Forces.
And Norman's laboriously rendered 470 page tome (Quercus Press) is just dripping with annoying cultural Marxist stereotypes, to wit:
1) White men are bad, particularly if they're British and most assuredly when they're American. The heroine's white male former husband is a Swedish MD control freak who stifles her individuality. The British MI6 operatives are sneaky, conniving liars and manipulators. And the Americans are...well, just awful.
In one scene, an athletic American (white male of course) CIA guy, like some kind of NKVD or Gestapo thug, physically beats the living hell out of the sainted heroine during an interrogation.
And the worse thing is that both the Brits and the Yanks have this evil and thoroughly mystifying tendency to see a Muslim terrorist under every bed.
2) Muslim Arab immigrant men are sexy, debonair, caring, inspired poetic intellectuals. They're also brainy and successful. And while there may be a few Islamic bad apples in the world, they are certainly a very rare exception. That's why the heroine, a Polish Swedish mix, just goes ga ga over her Arabic love interest.
3) Gay men are caring, dependable, funny and witty. So are hipster doofus internet hackers. They are the happy exception to Andreas Norman's generally malevolent white people.
|In rookie novelist Andreas Norman's world, |
white men are evil, especially Brits, Americans and non gays
Norman colors his often, sleep inducing, narrative with these PC caricatures.
His setup goes on endlessly with elaborate explanations of the intricacies of the EU bureaucracies as well as the world renowned Swedish intelligence operation. (Really, did you even think the Swedes had a spy agency?)
This is really boring stuff.
But maybe not quite as dull as Norman's seemingly endless probes into the psychological makeup and emotional states of his heroine, Carina Dymek, and the hero, Jamal Badawi.
This too is very boring stuff, but it provides Norman with a lot of filler. So after all this, Into a Raging Blaze finally gets to the action sequences around page 287, more than half way through the book.
In a nutshell, a disgruntled EU bureaucrat slips the heroine, Carina, a flash drive containing top secret info detailing a dastardly plan to create a new anti terrorism intelligence agency for the European Union.
This plan, it turns out, was devised by the Brits and Americans to give the NSA, CIA and MI6, carte blanche to do, basically anything they want in any European country.
Carina gets fired from her job with the Swedish foreign service for this. And because she's being diddled by an Arab, the debonnaire Jamal, MI6 tells the Swedes that she's a spy for the Moslem Brotherhood. This is also because Jamal's uncle is a big shot with that terrorist group.
Anyway, to try and clear her name, Carina traipses all over France and Belgium trying to find the mysterious EU bureaucrat who slipped her the flash drive. She finds out he's been murdered by MI6.
She gets chased all over the place and finally captured by MI6 and the Americans, who torture her and arrest her lover Jamal.
She eventually gets cleared due to the efforts of a kindly female Swedish spy and her gay hipster doofus techno geek pal.
The British press gets the flash drive, exposes the plot and the dastardly Brits and Americans are sent reeling.
Curses, foiled again!!
And in all of this, we're told that there really is an enormous "moderate Islamic" faction in the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamal's uncle was one of the moderates and so rather than falsely accuse these noble Arab immigrants of being anti Western, we should sleep with them.
At least, that's the message that we got.
John Le Carre or Ian Fleming, this is not.
We would not advise wasting your money, or your eyesight or any brain cells on Andreas Norman's incredibly dull and annoyingly PC excuse for a spy thriller ,
Into a Raging Blaze is very possibly the worst spy novel ever published.