Previous article
Next article

by Malin Persson Giolito

Within pages of the opening of this legal thriller, you’ll find yourself in quicksand.

Maria “Maja” Norberg, 18, is on trial for her role in a shooting at her wealthy Djursholm prep school that left a teacher and three students dead. A fourth student, the only survivor other than Maja, is gravely injured.

She admits to firing the shots that killed her best friend Amanda (accidentally) and her boyfriend Sebastian Fagerman (in self-defense).

It is impossible at this point to believe that Maja is innocent of this crime. But author Malin Persson Giolito skillfully leads you back and forth in time, locking the door on Maja’s alternatives one by one.

As the story spins out, Giolito returns to several scenes again and again. With each piece of new information those pivotal scenes are transformed. What once seemed so clear isn’t. By the end of the story, there are few people in Maja’s world who don’t bear guilt for the events she is accused of.

Schoolmates since preschool, it wasn’t until high school, just as school was ending for summer vacation, that Sebastian becomes attracted to Maja. When he suddenly appears in the south of France where the Norbergs are vacationing, Maja’s parents are impressed. He is the son of the richest man in Sweden. When his father, Claes Fagerman, invites them to have dinner on his yacht, the Norbergs are bedazzled.

Maja’s friends are also excited. Sebastian is handsome, exciting, has the biggest and best parties, shares his drugs, goes to nightclubs, drives a Porsche. He defines cool.

But underneath the Fagermans’ glitter, there is rot. Sebastian has to repeat his senior year, but rarely shows up except to pick up Maja. He idolizes his father who demeans him continually and praises his brother away at Harvard. His mother, a former beauty queen, left the family years ago and is no longer in touch. A housekeeper, deeply loyal to his father, is the only other person at home. Sebastian’s closest relationship is with his drug dealer.

Maja is popular, bright, makes great grades — a daughter parents can trust to do the right thing without intervention from them. Maja is almost as alone as Sebastian.

As Sebastian spins into darker and darker places, Maja’s parents are oblivious. Yes, they notice that he is high and rude when he comes to her 18th birthday party hosted in a restaurant by the family. They suggest that maybe Maja should get some distance. But when she tries to break things off with Sebastian, he attempts suicide. When his family leaves Maja to deal with him, her family doesn’t question it.

Without support or guidance, Maja is struggling in a nightmare that can only end in tragedy. You’ll be on the edge of your chair as the prosecution and the defense attorney present different sides of the tragedy.

This is a great read. Suspenseful, complex and brilliantly written

The Author: Malin Persson Giolito (1969 – )

Malin Persson Giolito is a Swedish writer and attorney, who grew up in Djursholm, a suburb of Stockholm. She is the daughter of novelist and criminologist, Leif G. W. Persson.

QUICKSAND was named the Best Swedish Crime Novel in 2016 and won both the Glass Key Award in 2017 and the Prix du Polar Européen in 2018. NPR named QUICKSAND a “Best Book of 2017.” Neflix and FLX adapted QUICKSAND as a crime drama series that premiered on April 5, 2019.

Giolito graduated from Uppsala University in 1994, before going to work at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. She earned a master’s degree in European law from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

From 1997 to 2007, she worked for Mannheimer Swartling, the largest law firm in Scandinavia based on attorney headcount, but left when she was expecting her third child.  She began writing novels in 2008 while working in competition law at the European Commission in Brussels.

She became a full-time writer in 2015. To date, she has written six novels, although only QUICKSAND and BEYOND ALL REASONABLE DOUBT have been translated into English. The other novels are Dubbla slag (2008), Bara ett barn (2010), Bortom varje rimligt tvivel (2012) and Processen (2018).

She and her family live in Brussels.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here