Created by Sara Lövestam

It’s so hard to be a saint in the city, but that’s more or less Iranian refugee  KOUPLAN‘s game plan. Although he has zilch experience and unfortunately doesn’t look more than eighteen, he sets himself up as an unlicensed private investigator in Stockholm, his new home, by placing discreet ads in the local papers:

Private detective. If the police can’t help, call me!

Working from a Hotmail account on a computer he rescued from the trash, he’s hoping to keep a low profile — he’s undocumented, off the grid and under the table, keeping to the shadows and trying to scrape by until he can legally apply for asylum.

Sure enough, a woman, Pernilla, soon responds to his ad, hoping he can help her find her six-year old daughter daughter, Julia, who has apparently been kidnapped, in The Truth Behind the Lie (2019), an extremely promising debut.

Kouplan knows all about loss –he’s still mourning the disappearance of his older brother, a journalist, in Iran four years previously, and so naturally feels empathy for  Pernilla. But as the two of them follow the clues, it’s soon clear that there more going on than a simple kidnapping — and that they may have stumbled upon an international human trafficking ring.

Already an award-winning bestseller in Sweden, The Truth Behind the Lie has recently been translated into English by Laura A. Wideburg.

The author, Sara Lövestam, lives Stockholm. Although best know as a children’s author, she also writes historical novels, Y/A and crime fiction. All her books, she says, “deal with deeply human struggles, such as challenging perspectives, dealing with alienation, and being true to oneself.”


  • “A delightfully quirky mystery … In Lövestam’s remarkable hands, this enigmatic pair lures readers in, slowly, one detail at a time. Hopefully, Pernilla and Kouplan will be back soon for another adventure.”
    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Absolutely compelling. This mystery has a moral center, with a growing bond between two beautifully realized characters, and a gut-clenching depiction of what it’s like to live in constant fear.”
    — Booklist (starred review)
  • “The best of novels. Not only because of the topics…but also for the humanity that exhales. And the prose: so delicate and balanced.”
    —  Göteborg Posten


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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