Over at the ‘Tipping My Fedora’ blog, Cavershamragu suggested that I put together a Top 20 Scandinavian crime list. I’ve got as far as a Top 5, as I’m not sure I have 20 I would heartily recommend. I’m also stretching Scandinavian to ‘Nordic’ (read for this anywhere that has a tendency to be cold, snowy and dark for much of the year), as I like Icelandic crime, and it has links to Swedish crime too…
1. Roseanna, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Sweden 1965). An early police procedural, co-written by a husband-and-wife team, which explores the state of 1960s Swedish society from a left-wing perspective. One of the first crime novels to focus properly on the identity of the female victim as well as on the process of investigation and the murderer. First in the 10 book ‘Martin Beck’ series – read them all while you’re at it!
2. Firewall, Henning Mankell (Sweden 1998) While the Wallander series, of which this is the 8th book, is hugely and rightly lauded, you don’t often see individual Mankell books make top-crime-fiction lists. I think this is because the books work best as part of a series, and none obviously stand out. But even so, this is one of my favourites, and I really wanted Wallander to be represented. Another fine police series – greatly indebted to Sjowall and Wahloo’s ‘first wave’ police procedurals.
3. The Draining Lake, Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland 2004) If the Wallander books are ‘second wave’ police procedurals, then Indridason’s can be thought of as the ‘third’, as they clearly draw on the Mankell and Sjowall/Wahloo books before them. This is the 4th in the ‘Ernaldur’ series, and it’s one of the best crime novels I’ve ever read. Check out my earlier post for a full review.
4. Borkmann’s Point, Hakan Nesser (Sweden 1994). This is an ‘Inspector van Veeteren’ mystery. I haven’t read any of the others in the series, but liked this one very much for its slightly quirky philosophical musings. Another police procedural (are there any other types of Nordic crime, I find myself wondering).
5. The Killing (on BBC4 tonight!!!) (Denmark 2007) OK, cheating here now – not a book – but it’s a way of getting a Danish one in, even though it’s a TV series. See my review of last week’s opening episodes. Top quality crime. Might be based on a crime novel (not sure / will dig)…
If you expand this list out to include all the books in the respective series, you’ll have enough to keep you going for years 🙂 Unless you’ve read them all already that is…further suggestions welcome…
Thank you Mrs P – I have gone right ahead and ordered an Indridason!
You’re welcome – be interested to hear what you think of the Indridason.
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Just started reading JAR CITY this morning and am really enjoying it – there’s a wonderful little observation right at the beginning about whether you can really commit a murder in your socks that really amused me. By the way, have you visited the Scandinavian Books website (http://www.scandinavianbooks.com/index.html)?
Glad you’re enjoying Jar City and thanks very much for this excellent link. I have a dim memory of having looked at the site a while back, but it looks much expanded. A great resource, so thanks for pointing it out – will blog it shortly.
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Two more to recommend: Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Icelandic) and Asa Larsson (Swedish).
Thanks, Anne. I haven’t yet read either of these. Would you recommend any particular books by these authors?
Lucky Mrs P, you have all the pleasure ahead of you! They both have a series character, each 4 books so far. Yrsa’s first is Last Rituals, protagonist Thora Gudmundsdottir, Larsson’s is The Savage Altar, protagonist Rebecka Martinsson. This one has been filmed under the name of Sun Storm which has been shown on SBS Australia. I can’t recommend anyof these books over the others, but in each case I did come upon the first title first and have read them in order. This helps with following the chars’ private lives, esp Thora’s.
Many thanks, Anne. Both are going on my TBR pile immediately!