Asgard Park: The Summer of 1991
Recent widow Shequere Avxhiu is finding life in Tirana extremely difficult. The fall of communism in Albania should have launched the country into a new age of prosperity, but instead it seems to have exacerbated the crime and corruption that characterized the old regime. Things are particularly difficult for women, especially those whose families lack connections, which is why Shequere’s best friend Rakipe has turned to prostitution. She works out of the Hotel Dajti, which is popular with visiting foreigners, and thinks that Shequere should follow her example. However, the only work Shequere is willing to do with foreigners is translation, and even that ends up landing her in a whole heap of trouble.
Meanwhile, Birger Wallenberg is traveling from Stockholm to New York to begin his new role as Director of the Asgard Park Institute, a private asylum and treatment center for the criminally insane. During the plane journey, he has a vivid dream about a woman and her young daughter being beaten by thugs, and when he finally arrives at the institute, he finds that the dream might have a basis in reality. It’s just the first of many shocks that are in store for him, particularly when it comes to the identity and mission of the institute’s founder, Doctor Karl Leamas.
For his part, Burton Crane, former NSA and MI6 agent and current NATO intelligence liaison officer, is hoping to quickly take down the German biker gang suspected of arms smuggling that he has spent months gathering intel on and make it back to London and his wife without too much delay. Of course, such things never go smoothly, especially not in the recently reunified Germany, and Crane soon comes to suspect that the whole sting operation is a set-up. Against his better judgment, he decides to unofficially investigate the matter further, which draws him into the orbit of powerful individuals and has the potential to expose a vast conspiracy stretching back across the centuries.
Although they are largely unaware of it, the fates of these three disparate individuals are being controlled by a powerful entity with an earth-shattering agenda, and when destiny compels the three to meet during the course of Asgard Park: The Summer of 1991, the consequences will be staggering, both for themselves and for humanity. In crafting their complex and interweaving stories, Ronald Simonar has drawn heavily on Norse mythology, particularly that concerning Heimdallr, the watchman of the gods, so much so in fact that a little prior knowledge in this regard might prove helpful. But even if the references initially seem opaque, things concerning the watchman do become clearer as the novel progresses.
Simonar has made an interestingly structural choice with Asgard Park, introducing the three main characters separately in the first three books of the novel before bringing them together in the fourth. While this allows tension to mount in the story and questions to develop regarding how everything will come together, it does lead to some degree of repetition and the need to remember certain things and characters that were not introduced as having importance. The main characters themselves are generally well developed and convincing, particularly Shequere and Crane, and overall Asgard Park is an exciting thriller punctuated with conspiracies, violence, otherworldliness, and even a hint of romance.
|Page Count||282 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|