Fredrik Backman is a Swedish novelist who broke out a few years ago with the novel A Man Called Ove. He is also a genius, which is proved by his latest offering Anxious People. I have read everything he has written which has been published in English. His latest might be his best (or at least a close second behind Ove).
The premise is pretty simple. A bank robber, who makes the mistake of trying to rob a cashless bank, escapes by running into an apartment viewing. The robber is then forced to hold the other visitors at the open house hostage. The other “anxious” people in the apartment are an older lady, a rich banker, a homosexual couple (one is due any minute now), a retired couple who flip apartments, a “rabbit” (don’t want to spoil the twist here so I will leave it at that), and the rather incompetent real estate agent. Most of them are not really what they appear and all of them are hiding something. A police team (father and son) are trying to figure out what happened when the bank robber disappeared after the hostages were released.
I thought all of the characters are well drawn and funny. The solution to the mystery is not obvious and is layered (so even if you think you know what happened – there is more to discover). There is quite a bit of making fun of Stockholm, but it does translate well (insert any big city in its place).
I was able to hear Backman discuss this book twice (the one benefit of the pandemic being that so many author events are available on line and for free). He talked about the challenge of balancing this book – making it funny but yet keeping the parts about mental illness true. Backman had a mental breakdown after obtaining fame. Some of the analyst sessions in the book reflect some of his own experience (after you read this, you will have great sympathy for his analyst). My favorite statement from him was that anybody who writes for a living has to have a mental problem because who else would want to live inside their own head for most of the day typing away at a computer.