Combining slapstick humor at the expense of lazy cops; international intrigue and espionage at the highest levels of government; and a dose of serious political commentary, the moral of Leif Persson's novel is simple. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Persson is a psychological profiler and adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Justice, and therefore has had intimate knowledge of the kinds of high crimes and low comedy that he writes about. And there are pointers in the book to how he views the creative process. The protagonist, Johansson is a crusty, brilliant policeman. When Mattei, a brilliant police researcher reports that she could "write a whole novel" about the suspect, Johansson muses that if she ever published a book about the case, he would put her into jail. And Mattei tells a colleague, "I don't know how to explain it, but to me it's often been the case that a really good novel has more to say about what we're really like as human beings than the gloomy accounts of people and their lives that we compile here."
On the subject of the imagination, thought Johansson, it's probably only when that takes over that even a reasonably good story takes off and the people really come to life. What was true and what was false was actually a rather overvalued distinction. Wasn't it the case that the really great truths, the eternal truths, could only be given life and substance by means of the human imagination?
In the end we can't know how much of the book is drawn from history and case files, and how much is fiction, thinly disguised as reality. Perssson is on a level with other masters of crime fiction who combine story telling with social commentary, including: Xialong, Mankell, Larsson, Sjowall & Wahloo.
Leif GW Persson, Another Time, Another Life: The story of a crime