Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

‘This wasn’t how life was supposed to turn out.’

There are a few seemingly disparate strands to this story: a bridge, an attempted bank robbery, an apartment viewing, and a hostage drama.  And it is brilliant, the way in which Mr Backman draws these disparate strands together.

But who is the robber, and what motivated the robbery?  And where is the robber?  After the robber lets the hostages go, the police find the apartment is empty.

The police sit down with the witnesses: surely their statements will help the police find the answers? The problem (well, one of them anyway) is that each witness has a quite different version of what happened.  And the policemen involved have some issues of their own.

‘It’s harder than you think to take people hostage when they’re idiots.’

This story is so ridiculously funny that I could not put it down.  In any case, I needed to see just how Mr Backman would draw all these disparate strands together.  It is cleverly done, and he brings each of the characters to life as they deal with their stresses and anxieties.

Did I say ridiculously funny?  As some stage, as the various pieces come together, the story moves beyond ridiculously funny to breathtakingly human.

The ending was perfect.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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