What You Need To Know About The Crime Novel EVERYONE Is Obsessed With Right Now

Photo: iStock
books summer read summer reading crime novel
Buzz, Self

If you love true crime documentaries and podcasts, this is for YOU.

You need something new to read.

That’s not a question — it’s a fact. Even if you’re the most book-obsessed person out there, chances are, you could use a new, riveting read in your life ASAP.

Plus summer is right around the corner and you need something exciting to read while you’re relaxing at the beach or sitting on your front porch pretending that you’re relaxing at the beach.

Fortunately, I have the perfect almost-summer book for you — Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito.

It’s a new crime novel that’s getting enormous critical acclaim, a courtroom thriller that’s about SO much more than just a courtroom.

Here’s why you’re going to be obsessed with Quicksand — if you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of the past few years being completely consumed by true crime stories. I can’t help myself. I just love them.

NPR’s Serial, HBO’s The Jinx, Netflix’s Making a Murderer, ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America… it’s so hard to stop binging on these fascinating, totally consuming stories of crime and privilege and society gone wrong.

And I can tell you with all honesty, if you love Serial or Making a Murderer, you’re going to LOVE Quicksand.

Now Quicksand isn’t a true story, but it reads like one. It opens in the aftermath of a school shooting in Stockholm, Sweden. The son of one of the richest men in the country has just gone on an armed rampage at his prestigious private school, killing a number of students and ending with his own death. However, his eighteen-year-old girlfriend, Maja Norberg, has been left to deal with the aftermath.

Because questions linger — how much did Maja know beforehand? Did she help plan the attack? Or was there nothing she could do?

That’s the specter that floats over Maja’s life following the shooting — the question of “Was she complicit?” The entire book is told from Maja’s perspective, who has spent months in jail awaiting trial for her role in the school shooting. (One could almost imagine her narrating her story as a part of a documentary or a one-on-one interview with Sarah Koenig.)

As Maja goes back and forth between the courtroom, her life in the prison, and the days leading up to the shooting, as readers, we’re challenged to figure out exactly how we feel about her. Because Maja isn’t some saintly, tragic figure. She’s complicated, angry, self-destructive. She’s not entirely convinced of her own innocence and neither are we.

It’s not a book where there’s some contrived twist ending.

The facts of the case aren’t really up for debate. We know what happened in that school that one terrifying day. So Malin Persson Giolito isn’t really interested in who did it. She’s interested in WHY.

Malin Perrson Giolito

And that’s what the courts and Maja want to know too. Why did this happen? And can one reasonably hold Maja responsible for her role in what her boyfriend did? The whole narrative leads up to that verdict.

I mentioned before that this isn’t a true story, but that doesn’t take away any of Quicksand’s urgency or realness. The fact is Malin Persson Giolito is a fantastic writer and her gift for wicked social insights and cutting dialogue elevate the book beyond most dry true crime stories.

Giolito is a Swedish writer, and Quicksand was named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy. If the impact of that doesn’t immediately hit you, that’s fine, but you have to realize that arguably the BEST crime and mystery fiction of the past DECADE has come out of Sweden.

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books, Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series, Johan Theorin's Echoes from the Dead — the Northern Europe literary crime genre is on fire at the moment and Quicksand is firmly a part of that tradition, while also standing apart, thanks to its unique first-person voice.

So Quicksand is like one part Serial, one part Lisbeth Salander, which… doesn’t that sound like an amazing way to spend a few hours at the beach? Or your lunch break? Or your annual staycation?

Plus, smarter people than I am are calling it “brilliantly conceived” and “haunting and immersive.” The Washington Post calls it "remarkable," Kirkus Reviews calls it "a splendid work of fiction."

One newspaper even said “you don't care about anything else except the pure pleasure of reading it.” (That’s a heck of an endorsement there.)

If you spent the last year losing yourself in crime documentaries and podcasts, trust me, you should spend this summer losing yourself in a book that brings the same thrills and ethical quandaries… and so much more.

Quicksand is the kind of book you’ll want to binge on in the best possible sense of the word.

Created in partnership with Other Press.

Expert advice

Save your breath because you only need two words to make him commit.
Are you REALLY thinking about their happiness?
If you keep finding yourself in heartbreaking, dead end relationships, listen up.
It seems like you can't do anything right.
Contributor

Explore YourTango