The Silent War, Andreas Norman’s second novel, mainly takes place in Brussels, where agent Bente Jensen, works and lives. As leader of the European branch of Swedish Intelligence Service she has many enemies, even among those who ought to be her allies, like Jonathan Green of the British MI6. In a city with many competing espionage agencies he is the person she fears and distrusts most. And when Bente finds out that Green has been part of a conspiracy to hold, torture and kill its political prisoners in a safe house in Syria, he and MI6 use all kinds of dirty tricks to disgrace her and remove her from active service. Her superiors in Stockholm are slow to react and mostly concerned about their own relationship with the British. On top of this Bente experiences problems on a personal level, issues that are about to turn her life into a nightmare. The Silent War is a smart and entertaining thriller about power, betrayal and love. It´s a rare combination of international espionage thriller and domestic drama, that reveals the sad human consequences of both private and public treachery.
The Silent War may well be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend you to start with Norman´s first novel, In a raging blaze, to get some background to the stories of Bente Jensen and Jonathan Green. This novel gets started in Stockholm, where the young woman Carina Dymek works at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During a business trip to Brussels, she is approached by a stranger and given a USB stick. The stick contains a secret report and when she delivers it to her superiors, she unwittingly, delivers a time bomb of classified information. She is immediately suspended from work and put under surveillance of SÄPO, the Swedish Security Service, suspected for collaborating with terrorists. Infuriated by the injustice, Carina takes off to Brussels, to find the man who gave her the report. In Brussels, SÄPO agent Bente Jensen is ordered to investigate how Dymek gained access to the confidential report, but the British M16 also have interest in Carina, as they think she is linked to an islamist network. The case quickly explodes into a manhunt, where nobody knows who´s the real enemy.
Andreas Norman is a former Swedish Foreign Ministry diplomat with several years experience of working closely with foreign intelligence agencies on global projects concerning counter-terrorism. Thus he really knows what he is writing about, when he describes the twist and turns of international politics and the issues when Swedish and British agents cross paths in the centre of Europe. He often uses documentary material as a starting point for his stories and then creates fictional characters filled with secrets and contradictions. The novels are set in a global environment, but he has a Nordic angle of approach when it comes to character development and the way he mixes the big world with the small one. The personal intrigues between the characters are equally important as the bigger international events that create the tension of the stories.
Both In a Raging Blaze and The Silent War are going to be developed for TV, which we really can look forward to.