This earnest exposé tries hard to be an exciting multi-layered Scandi thriller, one which reveals the manipulative machinations of a global religious organisation as it gets its claws into the naïve young people of the Swedish suburbs. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a lumbering lorry. Kult suffers from too many plotlines, too many improbable homicides, an implausible hero with an unnecessarily convoluted backstory, and a clunky writing style that deluges the reader in giant dollops of detail.
That’s a shame because the actual nitty-gritty of the tale – how gullible youngsters are lured into membership of a controlling organisation that separates them from their social circle, family and funds – is really interesting. The methods used by the ‘church’ to isolate, indoctrinate and dominate its members are horribly chilling, even if some aspects of its philosophy do appear to be straight out of science fiction. Mind you, an entire nation once worshipped a Norse god with a big hammer…
The tragic events which unfold are scary enough without the overblown am-dram. The castrated paedophile, a string of supposed suicides, a new identity from FBI witness protection and a metric tonne of baggage don’t actually add to any mystery; they just pointlessly fill the pages.
This may be down to the translation – but some lines are repeated in different chapters almost word for word which is plain slopping editing. There’s the outline of a good story here but it’s buried under writing that tries far too hard.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Kult by Stefan Malmström is available at Amazon
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