Atria, Aug 2002, 24.00, 351 pp.
A summer hire at the Stockholm tabloid Kvellspressen, Annika Bengtzon desperately wants to become a permanent reporter on the newspaper. Currently, Annika listens to crank calls on the paper's tip line in hopes of obtaining a legitimate story. One call Annika takes provides the locale of a naked raped dead girl.
Not expecting much from the tip as these usually turn out to be pranks, her editor sends Annika with a photographer to investigate. Instead Annika provides a strong story that earns her accolades from her boss. She continues her inquiries into the life of the victim as she feels that this story is her ticket to a permanent job with the newspaper. However, the case takes an absurd twist from the lover being the suspect to a high government official as a more likely murder candidate. As she follows that detour, Annika begins to uncover a cover-up conspiracy that if exposed could destroy Sweden's current ruling party's grip on the government.
STUDIO SEX, the prequel to THE BOMBER, is an engaging investigative tale that reads somewhat more like an amateur sleuth story because of the heroine's lack of experience. The story line provides plenty of insight into life in Sweden in various ways, but Annika fails to come across as the Swedish Woodward-Bernstein and this is not All the President's Men. Still the novel provides an intriguing conspiracy tale with the required sexual scenes, and a thorough look at Sweden making for an overall fine reading experience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner