were all enjoyable, but Hakan Nesser’s intriguing police procedural with Ewa Moreno as the main character was my pick of the month.
Archive for the ‘Sweden’ Category
They were the best of covers and the worst of covers……OK I am biased but comparing the US and UK back covers of Liza Marklund’s new thriller Lifetime I not surprisingly came to the conclusion that the US version is far superior. A nice photo of Liza and blurbs from experts.
The UK version has a blurb from the Daily Express comparing Annika Bengtzon with Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Feeling for Snow 1992, and Clarice Starling in the Thomas Harris novel The Silence of the Lambs 1988. It has been a very long time since I read those books, they are over twenty years old, and I agree they do have determined female protagonists, but otherwise the Annika Bengtzon books are very different.
Thanks to Barbara Fister for pointing out to me that the US version of Liza Marklund’s new Annika Bengtzon novel Lifetime has a blurb from Crime Scraps on the back. The blurb went on…..
This is an excellent addition to what is becoming a classic crime fiction series, and one which exhibits so many of the key factors that have made Scandinavian crime fiction so popular. Detailed coverage of a subject, social commentary, large doses of cynicism, dollops of humour both light and dark, characters who distrust their superior’s motives and who feel loneliness and despair, and of course the interesting female protagonist. The reader is helped by an excellent seamless translation from Neil Smith and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series, Lifetime, due out later in the year.
You can read the full review here.
I am very pleased that Last Will has been shortlisted for the prestigious Petrona Award. This award is in memory of Maxine Clarke, who very sadly died last December.
Maxine was a great champion of Scandinavian crime fiction, bloggers, and women in crime fiction, and I think it would be appropriate if Last Will written by Liza Marklund and featuring Annika Bengtzon were to win this inaugural Petrona Award. Just my opinion which I hope is shared by the judges.
When at the end of the year I picked my favourite books of 2012 Last Will was high on my list and I commented:
Last Will by Liza Marklund tr. Neil Smith
Annika Bengtzon, the most popular and attractive journalist in Scandinavia continues the struggle to balance her career and family. In this brilliant book the reader learns about Alfred Nobel, his prize, how a media outlet is organised, and tales of scientific rivalry. No wonder Liza Marklund was one of Maxine’s favourite authors.
You can get full details about the Petrona Award at the Petrona Remembered website.
You can read my review of Linda, As In The Linda Murder by Leif G.W. Persson translated by Neil Smith at Karen’s great resource for crime fiction fans, Euro Crime.
The anti-hero of this book, detective Evert Backstrom featured as a minor character in Leif G.W. Persson’s earlier book [Another Time , Another Life] but he was unique and definitely deserved a whole series all to himself.
‘ Hang on a minute,’ Backstrom said. He had suddenly remembered who they were talking about. “Didn’t he get life? Is that fucker already on the loose?
‘First he got life imprisonment in the district court. But the appeal court sentenced him to a secure psychiatric ward with specific probationary requirements, and according to our records he’s still inside, even though it’s now six years since he was sentenced. Must be a new record for a secure psychiatric unit.’
Anyone who thinks Swedes have no sense of humour should read this novel and try and work out how much is the author’s invention, and how much is an account of what really goes on among Stockholm’s finest.
I read more books last month than I ever thought possible. The weather kept us in a lot of the time, and many of the books were easy to read, and only one was near 500 pages. There were two non-fiction books as well as six crime fiction:
The Fall of France-The Nazi Invasion of 1940: Julian Jackson
I have read several accounts of this debacle including the classic 1969 book by Alistair Horne, To Lose a Battle: France 1940. I hope the current Franco-British alliance is more successful in their latest adventures in Francophone Africa, but I doubt it.
Interestingly in 1931 Time magazine chose the “calm, masterful” Pierre Laval as Man of the Year. He was Prime Minister of France four times. The collapse of France in 1940, and subsequent armistice, lead to the establishment in unoccupied France of the Vichy regime. After the Allied victory Pierre Laval was found guilty of high treason and executed by firing squad in 1945.
The Real Jane Austen-A life in small things: Paula Byrne
We have just passed the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice so I thought this book was an appropriate read to mark this important date in English literature. The book is full of interesting anecdotes and details about life in the Georgian and Regency period, and many of the sites associated with Jane Austen and mentioned in the book have a special significance for us.
We would frequently stop at the Jane Austen Museum at Chawton, in Hampshire, to break our journey down from London to Gosport visiting my in laws. This was in the early 1980s well before the Colin Firth TV production created a new following for Mr Darcy and Jane Austen’s books. Many years ago my wife lived in Winchester, where Jane lived her last few weeks and is buried in the cathedral. My son went to university in Bath, where Jane lived from 1801-1806 and where she set two of her novels, and I worked in Teignmouth for 15 years, where Jane holidayed in 1802. Our first holiday was at Lyme Regis, where Jane and her family visited in 1803, and 1804, and where Louisa Musgrave falls from some steps on the Cobb in Persuasion.
Well that’s enough literary stuff for one post. The crime fiction books I read were:
Linda, As In The Linda Murder: Leif G.W. Persson [a review will appear at Euro Crime in due course]
Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn [I will be posting about this phenomenon in the next few days]
Some very good reads but the best by a whisker was Linda, As In The Linda Murder by Leif G.W. Persson.
You can see my favourite Euro Crime books of 2012 here at Karen’s encyclopaedic resource.
My discovery of the year was the Norwegian crime writer Anne Holt, and I recently finished the second book in her Hanne Wilhelmsen series Blessed Are Those Who Thirst and that must be a strong contender for the 2013 International Dagger [review soon]. All the five writers I enjoyed most in 2012 concentrated on their characters, and I think that is the key to any good writing. Brilliant plots and clever twists are all very well, but it is the ability to create interesting characters that are the basis of a long running crime fiction series and a successful career as a writer.
And of course being able to empathise with your readers, especially if they are retired dentists.
He had been newly qualified as a dentist, at a time when the previously lucrative profession had become less profitable after twenty years of social democratic public dental services. Anne Holt-Blessed Are Those Who Thirst
Good news for her many fans is that the Swedish Crime Academy named Asa Larsson’s Till offer at Molok [Sacrifice to Moloch] as the Best Swedish Crime novel of 2012. Asa Larsson won this award back in 2004 with The Blood Spilt. Let us hope we don’t have to wait too long for an English translation of Till offer at Molok.
The best foreign crime novel award was won by Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison.
John Schwarz, a singer on the ferry between Sweden and Finland, loses his temper with a man harassing a pretty woman and kicks him in the head. Detective Ewert Grens sees the victim waiting to make a complaint at the police station. Ewert knows all about serious head injuries as for years he has been visiting the only woman he loved, brain damaged and living in a care home after he had accidentally driven over her head. Ewert Grens orders John Schwarz’s arrest and when he reacts violently they realise there is something strange going on. John Schwarz is not who he says he is, and when they check with Interpol the Swedish police find that his real identity is in fact John Meyer Frey, who died on Death Row in Marcusville, Ohio over six years earlier.
I have really enjoyed Roslund & Hellstrom’s The Vault and Three Seconds, and Cell 8 exhibited so many of the attributes that make the best Swedish crime fiction so good. Cell 8 had great characters like the incorruptible insubordinate Ewert Grens; Cell 8 went into great detail; when the story switched perspectives and time and location [between Stockholm and Ohio] it was to advance the plot and add to the tension. The story had something to lighten the mood a fraction as an antidote to the tension in the platonic relationship between the beautiful young policewoman Hermansson, and the curmudgeonly old Grens. Also I love small American towns and there is a superb analysis of the fictional Marcusville in the book so why did a political thriller that was going into my top ten suddenly fall away in my estimation.
The book’s message about the death sentence had been made very clearly, the sale had been completed. Then in a ridiculous plot twist at the very end the authors got too clever, and the story lost believability.