Star rating – 9/10
Easy Money will be released in the UK soon, but is already a sensation in Sweden and far beyond. It’s been a best seller there for over 2 years, and already been turned into a hit film. It seems the next obvious target for a big budget Hollywood make over. I, like everyone else, am becoming a bit bored by endless claims of the next big Scandinavian crime export to rival the Steig Larsson phenomenon, but really this is very, very good.
Jens Lapidus takes the lid of the murky Swedish criminal underworld, and uses the criminals themselves as his main characters, rather than any police or legal eagle. The story is told from their perspective not the victims, police or prosecutors. And it is a very engrossing story at that. Lapidus has drawn brilliantly on his experience as a criminal lawyer to write about people who feel they have no alternative but to continue living a life of crime. He gets right behind the way their minds work in this multi threaded plot with some very original characters.
In a lot of ways it is very reminiscent of The Wire, with intelligent people engaged in highly complex criminal operations which they run in very slick and professional ways. Some of his characters come from the dangerous world of the mobsters from the former Yugoslavia, who already feel like outsiders in their new home. They import the violence they used to brutal effect in the war there to establish a new dominance in Sweden. Their paths cross with a more unusual player. JW is a wannabe rich kid who is having to work very hard to maintain his facade with the privileged crowd he so longs to be accepted by. And Jorge is a Chilean doing the latest of his small stretches inside for relatively minor offences. And the mutual pursuit of big money by all involved leads to their paths crossing in a high stakes game where only the toughest have any chance of emerging with their lives and empires intact.
Lapidus writes in a very pacey and original way, changing the style of both the dialogue and the prose depending on which character he is focussing on. This is crime writing at its best – thrilling, fascinating, engaging, and brutal. This book is tantalisingly the first in a trilogy. If the other instalments are as good as this one we are certainly in for a dark treat.