A Death in Sweden, by Kevin Wignall
This is the second book I’ve read by Wignall and the second that lands itself in Sweden while still managing to wander around various European cities.
The main character in this story is Dan Hendricks. The blurbs on the book list him as a “former CIA operative” but now he serves as more of an independent bounty hunter for various governments, capturing people for “rendition”, murder/torture by his employers, or return to their native nations for trial. It’s pretty unsavory work and, for me, made him a pretty unsympathetic main character. Compare this to the other Wignall book I read, A Traitor’s Story,which featured a very likeable Finn Harrington, who was willing to take a hit on his reputation in order to fulfill a necessary operation for the British government.
Early in this book we learn that many of the other men Hendricks has been working with, also former CIA contractors, have been dying under mysterious circumstances and his former boss at the CIA has had to leave the agency due to a shift in the power structure there. After finishing a job for a South American country to return a former official for trial, Hendricks and his partner Charlie become aware that they are also targets of whoever is wiping out other contractors. The CIA is apparently cleaning house to purge itself of an unsavory period from which it wants to move away.
After an attack on Hendricks and Charlie at a remote cabin, Hendricks contacts his former CIA boss who suggests he investigate a death of a mysterious individual in Sweden. The death attracted the attention of the new powers in the CIA for some reason.
The trip to Sweden brings Hendricks in contact with a beautiful Swedish investigator and gives him a lead on a scandal that could eventually bring down the new powers that have made him a target.
In the story it never becomes clear whether the scandal and the “cleansing” are related at all while Hendricks travels around Europe blithely shooting nearly everyone that crosses his path … although we do get to learn about his sensitive side and his willingness to keep his word if he promises not to kill them.
Wignall writes a pretty good shoot-’em-up book and I really enjoyed A Traitor’s Story, but this amoral hero shooting his way through an amoral story left me colder than a Swedish new year.