Stockholm’s crime world exposed in Jens Lapidus’ Easy Money

The criminal underworld of the Swedish capital is exposed in a debut thriller, Easy Money, from the hands of a successful Swedish lawyer and author, Jens Lapidus. His work as criminal defense lawyer has enabled Lapidus to get a close look at Stockholm’s dark secrets, at the underworld of drug dealing, prostitution, violence and distorted ambitions.

Easy Money shows how tempting wealth and power can be, and everything that is associated with them – fashionable clothes and the easy lifestyle of the high society rich – and how hard it can be to resist the temptation of trying to be a part of it at all costs. What matters in this urban nightmare is having money, lots of it. Lapidus creates high-voltage tension as he follows JW’s metamorphosis from a young student to callus criminal, from when he first enters the cocaine-sniffing world of Nippe and Putte and then that of the rotten and brutal drug dealers Jorge, Mrado and Radovan. In this fierce and forceful noir the dark side of Stockholm is dominated by criminals and greed. It is ruled by the Yugoslavian Mafia. It is a mix of Eastern gangs and money-hungry Swedes, of high profile businessmen inclined to illegal activities, kinky sex and cocaine. Nobody is innocent in this charged chase for supremacy.

Lapidus builds the Stockholm noir on stereotypes and fears dominant in contemporary societies geared towards immigrants, those feared foreigners from cruel ‘barbarian’ cultures and war-ridden zones. Yugoslavs and Arabs are the novel’s bad guys, whereas the Swedish drug dealers, cocaine users, and sex abusers (old men paying for sex with underaged girls) are portrayed as the chic and the smart despite their addictions and illegal activities. As the police follows one step behind to capture the Latinos and Yugos, most of the Swedish characters walk free. A xenophobic message that reinforces prejudices and portrays cash, coke and coolness as the sought-after goals in life. A disturbing picture of a Nordic society with its social hierarchy constructed like a pyramid from what are presented as the low class criminal immigrants to the wealthy privileged. The thriller swallows the reader, whose naïve illusions concerning the innocence of civilized societies Lapidus shatters.

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