Quicksand – Determining Guilt in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

It smells like rotten eggs. The air is hazy and gray with gunpowder smoke.  Everyone has been shot by me.  I haven’t got even as much as a bruise.

Nine months ago, a mass shooting took place at a prestigious prep in one of the wealthiest suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden. During the shooting, 18 year old Maja’s best friend, Amanda, and lover, Sebastian, were both killed. Since that time Maja has been imprisoned and is now facing her day in court. As Maja grimly reflects though, it probably won’t be much of a trial since just about everyone in the country with the possible exception of her lawyer Sander seems convinced of her guilt. How is it that Maja, attractive, bright, popular, and from a wealthy family came to be the defendant in Sweden’s most explosive criminal case?  What actions – or inactions on her part brought her to this point?

Quicksand_UPDATED Cover

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giglito flashes in and out of the present day time with the trial to recount Maja’s doomed love affair with the charismatic but disturbed Sebastian son of the richest man in Sweden. The book acts as both a gripping courtroom thriller and a psychological thriller. Maja at times seems almost clinically detached to the proceedings that will determine her whole future. Hearing the lead prosecutor paint her as a uniquely evil perpetrator, her primary reaction is boredom at how long the woman drones on. At first this may seem odd or even psychotic, but what eventually emerges is a young woman deeply traumatized by a combination of grief, guilt, and despair.

Giolito examines issues of class, immigration, gender, and teenage alienation while piecing together the complicated web of events. None of the adults, be they teachers, parents, or investigators, seem of any use here except once more for Sandor, who’s not exactly brimming with warmth but whose dedication to factualness and the truth makes him the closest thing the novel has to a hero. The conclusion to what happened in that classroom may be pre-determined, but we’re captivated with finding out how it came to be. It’s not always a smooth or seamless journey, but it is nevertheless a mesmerizing one and with a narrative voice that is as unique as it is unforgettable.

Malin Persson Giglito

Top photo of Malin Persson Giolito, credit Viktor Fremling 

About Winnefred Ann Frolik (155 Articles)
Winnefred Ann Frolik (Winnie for short) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She completed the International Baccleareate program at Schenley High School and then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. After graduation she spent a number of years working in the non-profit sector and it was during that phase in her life she moved to D.C.  Winnie co-wrote a book on women in the U.S. Senate with Billy Herzig.  She enrolled in a baking program in culinary school and worked in food services for a while. She currently works in personal services while writing for Woman Around Town and doing other freelance writing projects including feeble personal attempts at fiction. Her brother is a reporter in Dayton, Ohio so clearly there are strong writing genes in the family.  She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with two demanding cats.