Scandinavian Crime Fiction: Part One
Let’s just start with five…because my list keeps getting longer and longer:
- Roslund-Hellström-I literally started reading their crime novel Box 21 immediately after posting yesterday…and I’m almost done with it. Luckily, I have 2 more by this team lined up. Gritty and fast-paced, with equal attention given to the criminal underbelly and to the police. According to the back flap, Anders Roslund is “the founder and former head of Kulturnyheterna (Culture News) on Sveriges Television in Sweden” and Börge Hellström is “an ex-criminal who helps to rehabilitate young offenders and drug addicts.”
- Camilla Läckberg-award-winning author of a series set in her home town of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden. I would describe them as police procedurals featuring detective Patrik Hedström and writer Erica Falck. My favorite part of this series really is the insight it gives into family life in Sweden. From what you might eat for dinner to where you might go on a date to what shows little kids watch, it’s all there…sprinkled in between the grisly, twisted crimes.
- Henning Mankell-a heavy hitter, called the back in 2005 the Washington Post published this article. My mother clipped it out and mailed it to me, I looked him up, and I was hooked. In October of 2015, Henning Mankell passed away, and his loss is keenly felt. I haven’t read any of his plays, and I haven’t exhausted his catalog of around forty books, but I have read every novel featuring his Detective Wallander that I could find. Maybe you’ve seen Kenneth Branagh in the BBC version on PBS…but I think the Swedish version starring Krister Henricksson (subtitled in English and currently available on Netflix) really captures not only Wallander, but also the other members of his department, his daughter, and Ystad, Sweden itself. Ian Rankin (another of my favorite authors) wrote for the Guardian that “Mankell used the crime genre as a means of critiquing politics, big business, social unrest and corruption” and “He showed us the human condition, warts and all, as seen through the eyes of an engagingly flawed but deeply humane central character, and paved the way for every Scandinavian detective who came after him.”
- Jussi Adler-Olson-this bestselling Danish writer has created quite a character in Carl Mørck, a character so difficult and disliked by his colleagues that he is relegated to the basement, where he heads up Department Q, investigating cold cases. In each book this misanthrope and his increasing team of misfits solve one sensational “big” crime after another.
- Cecilia Ekbäck–Wolf Winter is a first novel (although I read that she’s working on her second). This historical mystery set in Swedish Lapland in 1717 was a fascinating window into a world I never imagined and incredibly well-written. I picked it up a few months ago on a whim, and some of the images–a dark figure on a hill, the lonely walk from farmhouse to “town,” the creepy community–stayed with me. Poetic and suspenseful and chilling.
I’m going to close this one with a quote from Cecilia Eckbäck’s website:
“The expression ‘Wolf Winter’ in Swedish (Vargavinter) refers to an unusually bitter and long winter, but it is also sometimes used to describe the darkest of times in one’s life — the kind of period that imprints on you that you are mortal and, at the end of the day, always alone.”