TO A HAPPIER NEW YEAR

As I write this, we are on the cusp of a new year.  We leave behind 2020 with little regret.  Yet with the news that another, easier-to-distribute vaccine will be available soon, maybe the world will return to some sort of normality in 2021. It has been an unsettling and often upsetting time for us all.  Bunkered down for most of the year has enabled me to complete a couple of drafts of Mammon in Malmö which should see the light of day in April.  Sadly, we have been unable to visit our family in Sweden.  The Swedish approach to Covid has been controversial with no lockdowns during the first wave.  At one stage...

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SO THERE WAS A HOLE!

Readers of my last book, Mourning in Malmö, will be well aware of my protagonist’s efforts to discover why the MS Estonia sank in the Baltic on a stormy night in September 1994 on its run from Tallinn to Stockholm.  Her fictional father was one of the 852 ferry passengers and crew that were lost that night; 501 of them were Swedes.  An official enquiry was set up after the tragic event and it was this Joint Accident Investigation Committee’s findings that have sparked off over two decades of conspiracy theories. In the book, Anita Sundström explores a number of these theories in her search for the truth.  The committee (JAIC) – made up...

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CHANGE CAN HAPPEN

I’ve just watched an extraordinary documentary series about the great African-American boxer, Jack Johnson.  At the turn of the last century, he was not only fighting his way to the top in the ring but he was also fighting to be allowed the chance to become the world heavyweight champion in the face of overwhelming white opposition.  Two existing champions wouldn’t even consider defending their titles against Johnson because of the colour of his skin.  Recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the fact that some aspects of racial prejudice haven’t changed since Johnson’s time.  Of course, in light of the movement, Britain has been re-evaluating its race relations as well as soul-searching...

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AN END TO THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES?

No other event in Swedish history has generated more conspiracy theories than the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986.  His assassination scarred the Swedish psyche and shattered the nation’s innocence.  It was Sweden’s JFK moment. The 59-year-old Palme was a controversial figure in some quarters because he wasn’t afraid to speak out against violence in other countries and inequalities closer to home.   After being shot on a Stockholm street (on the way to the cinema with his wife), theories as to who was behind his murder have raged for thirty-four years.  I briefly touched on some of these in Meet me in Malmö; they ranged from lone killers to groups who had...

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HEALTHY RESPECT

Whatever I write now will probably be out of date within twenty-four hours, such is the swiftness of the coronavirus.  What the pandemic is highlighting is that incredible, dedicated people work in the health services around the world.  In the UK, we have always been proud of our National Health Service despite it seeing years of government neglect.  Now maybe one positive result of this dreadful situation is that future governments will respect and invest in our health system. Of course, I’ve been keeping an eye on how Sweden has handled the crisis, as I have family and friends over there.  Initially, their approach was similar to the UK’s – not to do anything...

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