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The Historians    by Cecilia Ekbäck order for
by Cecilia Ekbäck
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2021 (2021)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Cecilia Ekbäck's The Historians unveils a dark and disturbing chapter of Sweden's history, incorporating it into a riveting mystery. The story, that begins in 1943 Stockholm, moves between leads, including five who formed an inseparable group at university in Uppsala - Laura, Erik, Matti, Karl-Henrik and Britta. They were besotted with Old Norse history and the Norse faith, Asatru.

Three years after university, Laura works for Jacob Wallenberg, neutral Sweden's chief negotiator with Germany. She's shocked when Andreas (Britta's Sami childhood friend from Lapland), calls to say that her best friend has disappeared. Soon afterwards, they find Britta brutally tortured and murdered. Laura learns that her friend had met with the leader of the Swedish Nazi SSS (though definitely not a sympathizer).

Jens Regnell is secretary to Christian Gunther, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs. Jens receives Britta's thesis in the mail, but discards it without reading. He learns of a phone meeting (without any record) between Swedish, Danish and Norwegian foreign ministers. Then the archivist who flagged this to him is replaced and disappears. 'Secrets, everywhere secrets.'

In Lapland, Sami people have gone missing for some time and there are dark rumors. The director of the iron mining operation on Blackasen Mountain has been told that leased land the mine owns on the mountain is off limits - what goes on there? The foreman of the mine is Britta's father. A Sami boy, Taneli, is desperate to find his missing sister and eventually teams with the director to look in the forbidden region.

There are threats and more deaths. Their independent investigations pull Laura and Jens together - and they eventually find answers, involving human experimentation and a Scandinavian Reich. Then someone powerful behind the scenes cleans up - and more die. Don't miss the author's Note and Historical Background at the end, that discusses the Sami people, the State Institute for Racial Biology and more. Highly recommended!

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