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    Book Club in a Bag

    Scandinavian Noir (3)

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)


    by J.Tosic

    Although we already wrote about the Millennium Trilogy in the series of articles about publishing phenomena of the last decade, the Scandinavian Noir story wouldn’t be complete without its brightest star - Stieg Larsson, the man behind Lisbeth Salander.

    Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a journalist, mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. He was one of the founders of the Expo-Foundation, a group intending on exposing Neo-Nazi activities in Sweden. During the last fefteen years of his life, he was under constant threat from right-wing extremists.

    Through his work and in the interviews with the press, Larsson admitted that American and British crime fiction writers such as Sara Paretsky, Agatha Christie, Val McDermid Dorothy Sayers and Enid Blyton significantly influenced his work. The strongest inspiration, however, came from the literature of his own country: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. His main character, unforgettable Lisbeth Salander, was shaped based on Pippi Longstocking. Larssen wanted to explore how different characters from children's books would manage and behave if they were alive and grown up. Larssen especially liked the idea about a grown up Pippi Longstocking, a dysfunctional girl with borderline personality, who would have had a hard time finding a regular place in the 'normal society” and he used part of those characteristics when he created Lisbeth Salander. There are also similarities between Stieg's heroine and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise: traumatic childhood, amazing life skills and survivor instincts, operating outside of law...

    Larsson's literary legacy is three supreme crime novels that we know as the "Millennium Trilogy": The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. A "second violin" in the first novel, a side-kick who assists Mikael Blomkvist's investigation, Lisbeth Salander supremely dominates in the sequel.

    Larsson's novels are now being filmed. The productions of all three movies began in the spring 2008. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, after being seen by more than 6 million people in the Nordic countries, opens on Friday, April 16, in Canada and the States. The movie was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, with Michael Nyquist (as Blomkvist) and Noomi Repace (as Salander) in the main roles, and has already grossed US$100 million.

    Scandinavian Noir (2)

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)


    Erik Winter Novels

    By J.Tosic

    Ake Edwardson, another popular crime writer from Sweden, was born in 1953. He was a journalist, press officer for the United Nations, and professor at Gothenburg University, where his Inspector Erik Winter novels are set. He is a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers Award for the best crime novel.

    DEATH ANGELS (2009)

    It is a bit inconvenient that translated fiction series are sometimes published in Canada and the United States out of sequence. Death Angels, published in 1997 in Sweden, is the first book in the Inspector Erik Winter series, but the fourth published in English language, in 2009. Here the readers meet thirty-something Erik Winter, the youngest Chief Inspector in Swedish police history. Remote and prone to contemplation and introspection, he is also self-sufficient and confident, a bit of a snob, with a taste for expensive cars (drives a Mercedes), designer clothes, imported cigars and gourmet food. He is orderly and organized: his apartment is always in pristine condition, there is no mess on his desk in the office. Under that stiff surface, however, there are brewing emotions, intelligence, dedication, determination and a genuine desire to fight the crime.

    In Death Angels, Chief Inspector Winter teams up with a Scotland Yard detective to solve a case of parallel killings of Swedish and British tourists. The killer films the butchery; the trail leads into the scary world of snuff films, night clubs and strip bars. The big break comes from a burglar who finds some blood strained cloths in the apartment he broke into.

    SUN AND SHADOW (2005)

    In Sun and Shadow, Edwardson’s North American debut, but chronologically the second book in the series, “a plethora of seemingly insoluble problems contribute to Winter's sense of growing discontent: his father is dying in Spain; his pregnant girlfriend is moving into his apartment; and a bloody double murder suggests a serial killer. As in the Wallander series, the focus here lands not only on the hero but also on his entire team, as Edwardson details the slow grind of the investigative process. The action, beginning in fall 1999 and extending into spring 2000, effectively uses the Y2K panic to heighten the sense of troubled waters approaching that grips Winter and those around him. The comparison to Mankell is obvious, but in many ways, this series harkens further back, to Sjowall and Wahloo's early Martin Beck novels, in which another youngish Swedish inspector was beginning to realize that sometimes a crime's solution solves nothing.” (Bill Ott,

    NEVER END (2006)

    It's summer in Sweden. As the coastal city of Gothenburg suffers through a heat wave, Chief Inspector Erik Winter broods over a series of unsolved rape-murders. The crimes bear an eerie resemblance to a five-year-old case that the mercurial detective has refused to let go cold. Has the same rapist reemerged to taunt him, or is a copycat at work? And can Winter find a common thread among the victims before there are more of them? With Never End, Åke Edwardson brings American readers another installment of the smart, suspenseful, atmospheric series that has won him legions of fans all over the world. (, Product description)

    FROZEN TRACKS (2007)

    The autumn gloom comes quickly on the Swedish city of Gothenburg, and for Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter the days seem even shorter, the nights bleaker, when he is faced with two apparently unrelated sets of perplexing crimes. Mysterious assaults on college students in Gothenburg’s parks are carried out in the dark of the night, while during the day toddlers are abducted from their nursery schools and quickly returned, seemingly unharmed, before anyone even notices they are missing. Investigating these bizarre cases, D.C.I. Winter and his team follow their scant leads to “the flats,” the barren prairies of rural Sweden, whose wastelands conceal crimes as sinister as the land itself. Winter must deduce the labyrinthine connections between the cases before the culprit—or is it culprits?—closes in on his own family. (, Product description)

    The Shadow Woman, the newest sequel in the series, is to be released in September 2010. Don't forget to check our catalogue for more of Scandinavian Noir!

    Scandinavian Noir (1)

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)


    Inspector Kurt Wallander Series

    By J.Tosic

    If you would like to enjoy a first class murder mystery, you might want to check out the crime fiction coming out of Scandinavia. Crime writers from the north of Europe have made a terrific impact on contemporary mystery fiction in the last decade or so, and they have been steadily growing in popularity.

    Nordic mysteries have a special appeal that probably comes from their “reverse exoticism”: put together icy rain and northern wind, long winter nights, perpetual bleakness and the ferocity of the crimes…and out come stories darker and more horrific than those from more colorful settings.

    To understand the popularity of the “Scandinavian school”, you have to start with Henning Mankell, whose books have sold millions of copies all around the world. Mankell’s most popular work is a series of mysteries featuring detective inspector Kurt Wallander from Ystad, a town 60 km south-east of Malmo, in the southern province of Skane, in Sweden.

    Wallander is an insomniac who smokes and drinks too much. He is a depressed and lonely cynic filled with despair and self-doubt. He is also a decent and intelligent man. Divorced, emotionally vulnerable, firmly grounded only in his job, he looks pretty much like his literary ancestor, Ian Rankin’s John Rebus.

    The first published novel in the series is “Faceless Killers" from 1991; in 1999 Mankell, however, published “The Pyramid”, chronologically the first story in the series, where we meet young Wallander and follow him through his first cases, his marriage and divorce. If you plan to read the series from the beginning, it might be a good idea to start with “The Pyramid”. It’s not among the best in the series, but it gives you a few clues to help understand the Wallander you are going to meet and love in later novels.

    Check our catalogue for Henning Mankell (author search) and/or Kurt Wallander series (word or phrase search); you should get it in the relatively correct chronological order, starting with the most recent ones. If you need the exact timeline, or if you want to know more about the tireless Swedish inspector, I suggest going to Please note that in our collection you can also find the BBC TV series ”Wallander”, with Kenneth Branagh in the main role.