Last year, Swedish author, Emilie Schepe, took us all on a wild ride with her debut novel Marked for Life where we met Jana Berzelius aka KER; a prosecutor with a hidden past as a child assassin. This year, Jana/KER is back in part two of a planned trilogy.
Marked for Revenge picks up six months after the events detailed in Marked for Life. Jana’s managed to keep her past secret, but her old nemesis (and fellow child assassin), Danilo, is still out there as the one loose end she has to fear. When one girl from Thailand overdoses smuggling drugs into Sweden and her fellow drug mule goes missing, it sets off an criminal investigation and chain of events that make it vital for Jana to find Danilo before anyone else does. Along the way, Jana makes unexpected further discoveries about her past; and possible new connections for the future.
As a middle chapter of the trilogy, Marked for Revenge inevitably has some awkwardness to it. People trying to start here without reading the first book first will inevitably become confused and the ending is of course a cliffhanger to set up part three. Also, an attempt to add further tension among Jana’s work colleagues with a love triangle at one point feels contrived. Schepe is far stronger when she focuses on those psychological demons she’s already set up within her main cast like self-destructive policewoman Mia Bolanger and happily married policeman who’s sympathetic to Jana (possibly even nurturing a crush,) but begins to have nagging little doubts about her. The main center of course remains Jana herself, that icy, impenetrable killer who constantly skates on the edge of discovery or death in a manner that while not always plausible is always entertaining. As a series, it practically screams for a screen adaption and readers will find themselves impatient to turn the pages.
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