Jungstedt, Mari - 'The Dangerous Game' (translated by Tiina Nunnally)
Often in the news is the extreme influences models experience that pressure them to remain super thin, with thinness being equated with beauty. This novel uses this premise as a basis for murder. Jenny is a young, newly successful model, beautiful, and thin. She is sleeping with the well-known photographer Markus, known to be a philanderer with a penchant for sleeping with models. But, when she sneaks out to meet him, in a cabin some way away from the hotel where she is staying while on a photo-shoot, she discovers his body, covered with blood and Markus very near death, after he has been attacked with an axe. Detectives Anders Knutas and Karin Jacobsson are once again called in to investigate.
While the investigation is slowly progressing, with very few clues as to the identity of the attacker, a second story unfolds, that of Agnes who is severely anorexic. She is being treated in a specialist unit. Her father and his girlfriend come to visit when they can, but it is clear that she is not recovering very quickly and that she has a constant battle with her food, and her weight. How did she become this way? Is it something to do with the modelling world, which she seems to have once been involved in? How is this linked to the attempted murder of Markus (with more murders on the way)?
Overall, there is a nice juxtaposition of the so-called glamorous world of the model, with its underlying and often unacknowledged difficulties, as the women need to conform to expectations, and that of the life of the recovering anorexic. Treatments for the anorexic such as the 'warm room' and methods to encourage eating, together with the anorexic's resistant response are well described and provide real insight into the terrible effects of this disease. Observations on the obsession with being thin, how this apparently makes a girl beautiful, and yet at the same time is destructive run through the story. THE DANGEROUS GAME is a thought-provoking novel, perhaps somewhat simplistic in its main argument, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Michelle Peckham, England