ORIGINAL TITLE: Kassandra
Carin Bartosch Edström
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Albert Bonniers Förlag
Alexander Seher is celebrating in the Swedish Medical Association’s opulent reception suite. The handsome young man’s doctoral thesis on Taljéus syndrome – a subtype of burnout peculiar to senior professionals – has been approved by the exam board and the champagne is flowing. But conflicts simmer beneath the festive surface and rumours of cheating are already flying…
Among the toasts and tributes, someone has snuck in an anonymous poem promising bloody vengeance. The poem is signed Cassandra, the name of the prophetess who warned of doom but was never believed. Before the night is over, a murder has taken place.
The guest list is a labyrinth of betrayed and jealous colleagues, all with seemingly credible motives for committing a crime, to assert themselves or “see justice done”.
Police inspector Ebba Schröder – who is, conveniently, a trained psychologist – is called in to head the investigation. Her upper-class background lets her navigate the privileged academic world with ease. Harassed and exploited research assistants, greedy and corrupt pharmaceutical reps, and big pharma investors all seem to be playing their own game. How widespread is the cheating? And how long has it been going on?
Carin B. Edström deftly creates an intelligent, tight plot with a good portion of humour and a sharp eye for psychological detail and the idiosyncrasies of her characters.