Martin Österdahl has studied Russian, East European studies, and economics. He worked with TV productions for twenty years and was simultaneously the program director at Swedish Television. His interest in Russia and its culture arose in the early 1980's. After studying Russian at university and having had the opportunity to go behind the Iron Curtain more than once, he decided to relocate and finish his master’s thesis there.
The 1990's were a very exciting time in Russia, and 1996, with its presidential election, was a particularly crucial year. Seeing history in the making inspired Österdahl to write the first novel in the Max Anger series, Ask No Mercy. The series has been sold to more than ten territories and is soon to be a major TV series.
Award-winning Swedish director, Martin Österdahl’s best-selling debut novel ASK NO MERCY (An Amazon Crossing original trade paperback; $14.95, on-sale November 6, 2018) establishes Österdahl as a thrilling new international voice. Dubbed the hottest Swedish book when it was first published in 2016, this is the first time it has ever been published in English.
During his time studying in University in 1990's Russia, Österdahl saw history in the making, especially with the presidential election of 1996. Seeing history in the making is what inspired Österdahl to set his new Max Anger series in the volatile Russia of these times. The series is drawing attention across the world, selling to over 10 territories and will soon be a major television series.
Max Anger is a man on the edge. The former fighter in an elite band of special-ops soldiers in Sweden, Anger is haunted by battle scars, a childhood spent in the Stockholm archipelago, and his own mysterious family past. Now behind a desk at Vektor, a think tank conducting research on Russia, he’s met his match—and fallen in love—with fierce fellow operative Pashie Kovalenko. Like all of Vektor, she’s set her sights on the tenuous future of her country.
When Pashie goes missing in Saint Petersburg, Anger rushes headlong into a volatile Russia, where a new president is about to be elected in the midst of a technological revolution. At the movement’s heart is a start-up Pashie had been investigating, one surrounded by rumors of organized crime and corruption. But the truth is more shocking than Anger could have ever expected.
Now time is running out for Pashie. Racing through a storm of violence and deception, Anger gets ever closer to a sensational secret—and to the Russian madman with dreams of restoring one of the cruelest regimes in the history of the world.
Max got out of the taxi at the Kovalevskoe Cemetery, in the Vsevolozhsky District. He saw the small, relatively new turquoise chapel with its zinc-covered roof pointing at the sky like an arrow. Just as he closed the car door, the bells began to ring. Soon the funeral ceremony would start.
Max hadn’t spoken with Mishin since the events at the university. Now he saw the older man walking outside the church and raising a hand in greeting.
“Afanasy,” Max exclaimed. “It’s wonderful to see you in good health.”
“Likewise,” said Mishin, shaking his hand, pumping it up and down. “I’ve just been to the river. With the walruses.”
Mishin smiled. “My comrades. We sit in the sauna a few times a week and then take a dip in the river through a hole in the ice. Good for the heart. And the soul.”
His smile died.
“I’ve been fired,” he said. “Effective immediately. The department is not to be reestablished.”
“What? Why not?”
Mishin shook his head. “I think the decision was made by someone high above the rector.”
Wasn’t the rector the highest boss? Could it have been the board? Or someone at the top of Saint Petersburg’s municipal administration?
They joined a group of mourners. The women walked as a separate group, dressed in black, some of them crying loudly. The men held bouquets of red roses; their cheeks were wet with tears, their expressions grim. The procession was led by three Orthodox priests with long hair and bushy beards. They were dressed in cornflower-blue tunics bearing the Orthodox cross with its three horizontal beams; the lowest, the footrest, was angled in accordance with Russian tradition.
Max and Mishin took their places in the pews, and the priests disappeared behind the iconostasis.
Max closed his eyes as he sat on the wooden bench. He listened to the ringing of the last bells. Seventeen. Around his right wrist he wore the bracelet he had bought from the youth who was lying in the coffin. Somewhere in the church sat the young man’s sister, who had made the bracelet. A sister who would have to sit alone at the market on Saturdays from now on.
Vladislav Bagayev had been only a boy.
Max looked around the church. Didn’t recognize any faces. Could there be a bomb here, too?
I have to get to the bottom of this before more innocent people die. I have to find Pashie.
The police had told the newspapers that the university had not properly maintained its gas lines. They said the university had been warned that an accident was inevitable if the problems were not addressed. The university rector had said there would be a full investigation and that those responsible would be prosecuted. Mishin had been one of the scapegoats identified.
Max closed his eyes again. Remembered the funeral in the chapel on Arholma a month earlier. His last farewell to his mother.
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