The Other Sister: An Agent John Adderley Novel
“It all comes together in a grimly satisfying series of events, showing more clearly than ever that Mohlin and Nyström understand costs and penalties. The finale of the book sets John reeling with the consequences he’s set in motion.”
This second novel by the Swedish friends and co-writers Mohlin and Nyström more than lives up to their 2021 debut in The Bucket List. Like the first novel, The Other Sister is told in alternating chapters, this time by a murder victim’s sister and by former FBI agent John Adderley. The harsh crescendo of revelation adds both suspense and depth to a very dark tale of bad choices leading to crime and consequences.
John Adderley, who previously gave up the security of American “witness protection” in order to return to Sweden to try to salvage his half-brother’s life, isn’t doing well in a Swedish County Criminal Investigation Division—his boss lacks management skills, making it tough for John to investigate at his best. Protecting his family members added stress to his police connections in the earlier book. Now things get much worse: The other man who’d tackled undercover work with him, Trevor, is in Sweden to beg John to extend a different kind of protection, a video that insures John’s safety from the Nigerian drug cartel he and Trevor infiltrated back in Baltimore. John’s rightfully hesitant—is Trevor actually working (unwillingly) for the cartel?
Meanwhile, the crime John’s supposed to be investigating on behalf of the Swedish team is much more complicated than it first appears. The reader learns the secrets and twists of this through the eyes of Alicia, sister to murder victim Stella—the sisters own a high-tech online dating site, with Alicia leading the computer underlayer, and Stella being the public face. In fact, Alicia’s face is exactly the problem: She’s scarred, horribly, and nobody would buy a product linked with her appearance. Alicia’s also abusing alcohol at a shattering level of danger.
Alicia is the one with the worst secrets. The narrative style means readers absorb the horrors of her life, while John is still struggling to survive the international crime syndicate that’s located him. That barrier of knowledge morphs The Other Sister into a high-stakes thriller, as Alicia’s drunken manipulations and John’s half-blinded efforts tear into each other.
John is, of course, the ultimate focus, and Mohlin and Nyström (with deft translation by Ian Giles) grant him clarity to see that “Everything that could have gone wrong had gone wrong—and now he was trudging around in the trees without knowing which way was up.” While Alicia’s awful choices come from both alcohol and simmering rage, John’s add up to violating the loyalty he owes to both the law and his team.
“After the shooting at Bergvik, John simply had to recognize that the law—in the strictly legal sense—was no longer his guiding principle. Instead, he was deploying his own homemade moral philosophy, which seemed to take it for granted that most things were allowed if you were trying to secure your own liberty and survival. He comforted himself with the fact that this was probably the rule most people adhered to when their own existence was at stake.”
This cuts him off from his best allies, a lousy position. There will be no happy endings. Yet it all comes together in a grimly satisfying series of events, showing more clearly than ever that Mohlin and Nyström understand costs and penalties. The finale of the book sets John reeling with the consequences he’s set in motion.
It looks like there will be a third John Adderley thriller. John may survive, through his pragmatic deceptions. But where and how will he hide next?