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Two Soldiers    by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom Amazon.com order for
Two Soldiers
by Anders Roslund
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Leon Jensen and Gabriel Martin became close friends when they met in the third grade at a school near the projects on the outskirts of Stockholm. By the age of nine, they were drug addicts and dealers. Nine!

As they grew older, they both had extensive records. They trusted no one but each other. They enticed other young boys to join their gang. They were each other's Bros and preached one love. At nineteen, Leon was in prison and Gabe was running things on the outside. They named their gang the Ghetto Warriors.

Determined to rule crime in the extensive projects, they ran their gang with an iron fist. And bewildered the police who were not able to catch them in an illegal act. The two were so organized that they held the tenants of the projects in thrall, afraid to use the elevators or open their doors to a knock.

Detective Jose Pereira, head of the Organized Crime and Gang Section, maintains a huge chart, trying to keep tabs on the youths who are all slowly becoming adult criminals. Chief Superintendant Ewert Grens works hard to gain control of the gangs but realizes he probably won't manage it in his lifetime.

Authors Roslund and Hellstrom have sold over four million books worldwide. I'm sure Two Soldiers (translated by Kari Dickson) will increase that number by a good bit. Roslund has a background of television journalism and Hellstrom is an ex-con. Together they have the basic knowledge of the situations of which they write.

I found the story at times a little hard to follow because I wasn't sure who was talking. But the story had an edge to it that most crime stories don't have. We, as readers, see both sides of the coin. The criminal element is very hard to believe, but I feel sure the authors speak from knowledge of the crimes committed. We also see the frustration of the police trying to bring these young men under some sort of control.

The characters in Two Soldiers are extremely well fleshed out. I felt as though I really knew some of them. Although I'm not too sure I would want to know any of them. Such a shame that the young minds that concoct guns, bombs, even tattoo equipment from scraps don't use their expertise and bright minds for different goals. This is a very challenging book.

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