Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nordic nights

So you've savored every last morsel of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and are looking for something Scandanavian to get you through the long hot summer. Luckily Steig Larsson isn't the only Nordic novelist out there, but merely one amid a rich menu to choose from.

My first journey to long winter nights was in the mysteries by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. This Swedish husband and wife duo was writing in the 1960s and gave
us a host of Martin Beck stories, the most familiar probably being The Laughing Policeman. The first in the series, Roseanna, was reissued last year and many others in the series have followed. These books are a great place to start your search for a Swedish detective series.

Other Nordic writers currently available and worth more than just a cursory look:

Hennig Mankell is the writer who kicked the doors open for Swedish writers in modern-day America. His tales of Inspector Kurt Wallander (Sidetracked, One Step Behind, Firewall, among others) were recently aired on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery and starred Kenneth Branaugh. But don't stop there. The list of Swedes continues with: Ake Edwardson's Erik Winter series; Kjell Eriksson's Ann Lindell mysteries; Asa Larsson's Rebecka Marinsson stories; Hakan Nesser's Inspector Van Veeteren; and Helene Tursten's Irene Huss series.

Tales from Norway can also be found. Currently making waves is Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series. The Redbreast introduces Hole and a world of corrupt cops and neo-Nazi nasties. Currently available in America are Redbreast, Nemesis and The Devil's Star (The Redeemer and The Snowman can be found as British imports and will, no doubt, be published in America in short order). Two other Norweigan authors worth their weight in thrills are K.O. Dahl's Frank Frolich series and Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer, who got on mystery readers' radar with The Indian Bride (fourth in the series).

And if you haven't already done so, you also will want to introduce yourself to Arnaldur Indridason's Reykjavick mysteries, in which there are never any easy answers and where life can be as unforgiving as Iceland's isolated, bleak landscape. Five novels are currently available on these shores, beginning with Jar City and the fourth, The Draining Lake, is newly released in paperback. The fifth in this series, Arctic Chill, is in hardcover and will be followed in Sept. by Hypothermia.

Other writers (with a limited number of titles and a growing number of fans) who should be on your radar: Camilla Lackberg, Karin Alvtegen, Mari Jungstedt and (if you can find any of her titles) Kerstin Ekman, whose 1995 mystery Blackwater.has only recently be reissued in England; with any luck we will see her name back again on American bookselves.

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