Piet Hoffman is the Swedish police's most valuable undercover operative. His cover is as a lieutenant in the Polish Mafia which is bringing amphetamines into Sweden by using Polish people who swallow balloons filled with amphetamines and then cross the border. These 'mules' must then expunge the bags by vomiting them up when in Sweden.
Hoffman is at the scene when another undercover officer is unmasked and murdered. He is so deeply undercover himself that he's unaware when other police are also attempting to infiltrate the Mafia and gain information.
Detective Inspector Ewert Grens leads the investigation into the man's death.
One of the authors is a journalist and the story is written with short chapters. This gives the reader the idea that they are glancing at photos of scenes as they flash by.
Hoffman is in a difficult position with a young family that is unaware of his undercover activities. We see him as a hardened, uncaring person when dealing with other Mafia members but then he transforms into a tender husband and loving father of his two young sons.
Hoffman's Mafia bosses want him to go to prison so he can operate the drug operation there. Grens continues to investigate and this puts Hoffman in a precarious position, not knowing who to trust. In one of the memorable scenes of the novel, Hoffman admits his other life to his wife and tries to tell her how to protect herself if anything happens to him.
The characters are often brutal and ambivalent about taking a person's life. The co-author of the novel is a reformed criminal who uses his expertise to create vivid scenes that ring true.
I was moved by Hoffman's predicament and felt that the scenes of extreme violence were just demonstrating the reality of prison life that was the setting of the story.