Gunvald Larsson never plays it by the book, so when we’re promised that he’s going to ‘go rogue’ in The Eye of the Storm, we can only imagine the mayhem that will ensue. Beck doesn’t normally get tangled in the machinations of the intelligence services either, so the involvement is SAPO in this one rather changes the game.
When a young Norwegian woman, Kim Reeshaug, and her son Tom, are pursued by evildoers, she calls Larsson for help; but by the time he arrives, all he finds is a charred corpse. Normally we always suspect a charred corpse – it’s rarely the person it’s meant to be – but Larsson seems convincingly upset. Perhaps he’s run out of Swedish women and he’s had to make a start on the Norwegians.
Anyway, security service SAPO (ever heard of them? – us neither) has been watching Kim, and asks a poorly Beck for help in finding Larsson, but he says nothing, concealing the fact that he’s already in touch with the bearded and boozy Larsson. (Has Larsson grown the beard in memoriam for the death of Oberg last week?)
Larsson explains that he knew Kim years before (is Tom his son, we wonder?), met her again recently by chance, and found out she was involved with eco-terrorists EJM (The End Justifies the Means). He asks Oskar for help finding information on Kim, and finds her flat. Didn’t it occur to him that the SAPOs would be watching it? – in any case, they turn up but he brushes them off. Why didn’t they just take him in for questioning and get the rubber hoses out?
Sitting moping in the cafe where he met Kim, Larsson is astounded (though we’re not) to see her watching him from over the road. (See, we told you she wasn’t dead). The corpse was one of the EJM terrorists, she explains, and Tom is Larsson’s son (another big not-surprise).
EJM is holding Tom while planning an attack on a nuclear power station, and Kim is being forced to help (though conveniently she was able to slip away to meet Larssen). She uses Tom’s hidden mobile phone to call Larssen (but since she has a laptop, couldn’t she just e-mail for help?).
Beck is still being haunted by his eccentric neighbour Grannen, though he’s moved to the floor below, and goes to mope at Oberg’s memorial plaque, which might be more fun than listening to Grannen going on about silverfish. Then Larssen turns up, and spills the beans about his relationship with Kim. This apparently involved a two-month elopement to Zanzibar, after which they ‘drifted apart’ – whaaaat!?
Larssen steams in to rescue Tom, but after a car chase which is almost exciting, shoots one terrorist at the docks, cops a bullet and ends up in the water. Beck finds a map on the body of the dead man, and the injured Larsssen goes to Oskar for sanctuary.
EJM mastermind Robinson, who seems very reasonable for a ruthless terrorist, is rather miffed by this turn of events, and threatens Kim with being watched day and night – ooh, scary! He might as well have threatened her with the comfy chair and the soft cushions.
Beck calls Larsson whatever is Swedish for ‘arsehole’, but sympathises with his worry for Kim and Tom, and divulges nothing to SAPO. They still haven’t even figured out that Kim isn’t dead.
Larssen rather implausibly wanders into the EJM hideout and manages to talk to Kim, but can’t find Tom, so the plan goes ahead. Robinson’s plot is to hijack a service van, enter a nuclear power station, and threaten to blow it up if the authorities don’t broadcast an anti-nuclear film. It all goes rather smoothly – well, this is 2006, and security is so much more lax than it would be now.
Larssen is captured and beaten by EJM members, but they’re so reasonable that they leave him tied up rather than killing him. Then, remarkably, SAPO lets him wander off, and he phones Tom – who has been left all on his own with his hidden phone.
SAPO have (finally) figured out that Kim’s not dead, and Beck has identified the map as being of the power station, so everyone lurches into action by road and helicopter. Larsson rescues Tom and shoots Robinson, and Kim dies stopping the other terrorists from detonating the bomb.
Fortunately for Larsson, no-one but him knows that Tom is his son, so he can palm him off on a sister.
As often happens in Beck, Larsson gets all the action in this one, to the extent that the casual viewer would assume that he’s the star of the show. Forensics get done remarkably slowly in order to keep the plot grinding along, and no-one gets reprimanded for violating procedure – in this one, Larsson shoots a suspect in the leg to get him to talk, which we would have thought would at least have resulted in him being suspended for a week.
If there’s an underlying theme to the story, it seems to be that Swedish nuclear power stations, with their unarmed guards, are vulnerable to terrorist attack; but the terrorists here are so airy-fairy that they never seem much of a threat. In fact five of them die without them harming a hair on anyone else’s head; they’re more of a danger to themselves than to others.
Beck, who seems to be permanently under the weather, has little to do except to cover for Larsson; certainly he doesn’t reveal much of his inner workings here, other than showing some regard for the memory of Oberg, which is more than we’re allowed to do. Maybe when her successor settles in, Beck will be back to his old self and able to take the lead once more.
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