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    Book Club in a Bag

    Scandinavian Noir (5)

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)


    by J.Tosic

    Why are Scandinavian mysteries so popular? For the North American readers, says one of the fans, "it's delightful to read a crime novel in which the policeare genuinely shocked by crime. So much of our crime and police fiction absolutely takes violence for granted..." Part of the appeal lies in the main protagonists: these policemen, detectives, and inspectors are not glamorous macho-men; they don't - with few exceptions, such as Inspector Erik Winter, although that suits him fine - wear fancy clothes and drive expensive cars. They don't chase super-terrorists and spies, and they don't try - what a relief! - to save the world. They look like people we know and trust; we can easily imagine them working for our local police force. They are so ordinary, yet we can't get enough of them.

    Through their novels, the Scandinavian crime writers do not hesitate to confront some serious social problems: racism, extremism, family abuse, xenophobia, poverty...and the inefficiency of the state institutions to effectively deal with them. These books are not written for leisure reading only: they ask questions and question the answers; they make you get involved while reading, and leave you thinking long after you finish the last page. That's why I like them: they let me participate.

    Here are a few other notable Nordic authors:

    PETER HOEG is best known for his novel Smilla's Sense of Snow (1992). He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and before becoming a writer, he was a sailor, ballet dancer and actor. Hard to place in terms of literary style, his literature has been characterized as post-modern, gothic, and hyper-realistic. The main theme of his novels, though - the consequences of the progress of civilization - remains constant.

    Smilla's Sense of Snow was a sort of a publishing hit; one of those books that recieve a warmer reception from the critics then from the audience. Smilla Jaspersen, a 37-year-old expert on snow and ice, obsessively tries to find out the truth behind a small boy's death. A believable, no-nonsense character, Smilla is also a bundle of contradictions. Half Danish, half Greenlander, she drifts between the two cultures, not at home in either of them. To a certain point, she resembles Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander: both are misfits with a traumatic past, but with their own sense of justice and morality. Independent, smart and aggressive, yet sensitive and fragile, Smilla is in constant discord with the world around her.

    Check our catalogue for Smilla's Sense of Snow, and other novels by Peter Hoeg. The movie with the same title, and Julia Ormond in the main role, is currently on order, and you can place a hold on it.

    KARIN FOSSUM is a Norwegian author of mystery fiction. She is the creator of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer series, translated into more than a dozen languages. Her novel Don't Look Back won the Glass Key Award and Riverton Prize. Calling out for You was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, and, under the title "The Indian Bride", won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her newest book, Bad Intentions, is currently on order; check our catalogue to place a hold.

    HAKAN NESSER is another Swedish crime writer with an international reputation. He won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and the Glass Key Award in 2000. The recurring main character in his novels is Van Veeteran, a detective in the early novels and the owner of an antique book store in later books. The novels are set in the fictional city of Maardam, somewhere in Northern Europe. In his 2006 novel Human Without Dog, Nesser introduced a new main character, Inspector Gunar Barbarotti. This time the series is firmly set in Sweden.

    JO NESBO is a musician, economist and one of the most acclaimed Norwegian crime writers. His Detective Harry Hole novels have been translated into more than forty languages. The Bat Man is the first installment in the Harry Hole series, set in Oslo. In our collection you can find Devil's Star (2005), Nemesis (2007), The Redeemer (2009), The Snowman (2010) and Redbreast (2006), which is currently on order.


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