First off, I like this book, this author, the story and the characters. However, I find the reality split between what seems to be Sweden and its culture and what sounds like an American criminal subculture populated by non-Americans to make me uneasy. The police and the rest of the Swedish legal system appear to act and sound like what I expect them to sound like--nothing like what you might find in an American context. The book is even peppered with "legal documents" to lend a Swedish legal flavor. Organizationally and even temperamentally, the Swedish police seem to think about things differently than American police--their approach is different. They are more objective in a bureaucratic sense and trying to figure a plan to optimize Swedish order, law and sensitivity. In other books by Swedish mystery writers, I've found the same kind of operational workings by the police. They sound better controlled, organized, and less emotional than their American counterparts.
The criminals, on the other hand, sound just like American criminals. The two key "good criminals," JW (an upwardly mobile kid who sells dope) and Jorge, a Swede by birth and Latino by ethnicity, are actually likable. I was rooting for Jorge's escape from prison and hoping that JW would meet his aspirations. However, the other criminals with whom they move as well as they themselves sound exactly like American criminals. The bad, bad criminal, Mrado is a Serb crime boss who sounds like the kinds of heavies in the US--in speech and manner. It's an odd combination of Ghetto thug, Aryan prison monster, and Brighton Beach (NY) Russian mobster and maybe a little Godfather bent nose. However, it certainly does not sound Swede. Therein lies the schizoid split--a very Swedish criminal justice system fighting non-Swedish criminals.
While the author (who is an attorney himself) captures the Swedish voice of the system of justice and police, I somehow don't think he captures the voice of the native criminals. It sounds like someone (perhaps his translator) is plugged into American criminal argot. With perhaps a few missteps in conveying that sound of (American) criminals, they story forges ahead with lots of actions and cliff hanging. I did get used to the sound of the American criminal jargon and the Swedish police, and ultimately it did not hurt my enjoyment of the story. It's possible that American criminal argot has become the lingua franca of criminals everywhere, but I'd like to believe that Swedish criminals are as unique as their country's legal system.
As in other Swedish mysteries, I'm surprised by the non-Swedish criminals. For some reason Yugoslavians play a major role. I've always wondered why a Yugoslav would relocate to Sweden and freeze his Jelek off. Russians make sense as do other denizens of the former Soviet Union, but given that the Balkans are more in line with Italian latitudes, a trek to the land of long winters and short summers is a bit of a mystery in and of itself.