In Marked for Life I wanted to write about a woman that was odd. But I did not know how odd she was going to be until I read an article about child soldiers. In 2012 there was a huge debate about child soldiers after the documentary “Kony 2012” went viral. The documentary was about Joseph R. Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. He has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers. As I read the article I remember that I raised questions to myself: “What would happen if there were child soldiers in Sweden? And what happens if the solider want to be a child again? Is it even possible?”
I knew I wanted these children in my stories and, strange as it sounds, I had to find children that no one would miss or search for. To abduct a child in a playground leads to a storm in the media and I did not want that. I wanted the abduction to take place in secret, without anyone knowing.
One evening as I watched the news I saw a container truck that had overturned on a highway. When the police arrived at the scene they found several refugees in the container. They had not been registered at the border. They were illegal. No one knew they were in Sweden. So I went down to the port of Norrkoping and looked around and when I saw the thousands of containers I realized that anything could be hiding in them, including children.
Marked for life is the first book in the series of prosecutor Jana Berzelius. When the head of migration is found shot dead in his living room, plenty of suspects emerge. But no one expects to find a mysterious child-sized handprint in the childless home. Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius steps in to lead the investigation. Brilliant but emotionally cold, like her famous prosecutor father, Berzelius won’t be swayed by the hysterical widow or intimidated by the threatening papers the victim had tried to hide.
The police are puzzled when evidence suggests that the murder was committed by a child, a boy whose dead body is later discovered on a deserted coastland.
Jana Berzelius has a secret. When she was nine years old she woke up in hospital without any memories. But when she attends the boy’s autopsy, Berzelius is drawn in more deeply by the strange, familiar markings on his small, scarred, heroin-riddled body: letters cut into his flesh that trigger in her a flash of memory of her own horrific past. Her connection is visceral, carved with deliberation and malice that penetrate to her very core.
In the search for the truth about the dead boy, Jana is about to intersect with the truth about her own childhood in a very scary way.
Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp is out now (MIRA £12.99)