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Saturday, May 14, 2011


I've been reading more books from Scandinavian authors lately.  The following paragraph is a reprint from my May 4, 2011 review of Arne Dahl's new book MISTERIOSO which will be released in July:

Ever since I read Stieg Larsson's wonderful trilogy I've discovered more authors from that chilly section of the globe. Perhaps it's because of the long winters that force them indoors, or just that the Scandinavian publishing industry has decided to follow the coattails of Larsson's amazing success, but whatever the reason and lucky for us, intelligent and intricate Scandiavian mysteries have reached our shores in abundance. Jo Nesbo of Norway, the writing duo of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom from Sweden, as well as Arnaldur Indridason of Iceland have all produced solid and enjoyable mysteries and thrillers that have been translated for the English speaking market.

I recently came across a fascinating article written by Wendy Lesser for SLATE (the online current affairs and culture magazine) which was posted May 11, 2011, entitled:  NORWEGIAN MOOD, What Makes Jo Nesbo's Books so Addictive.  Having just read NEMESIS and THE SNOWMAN, both by Nesbo, Lesser's article couldn't be more timely for me.  Of course, I read THE SNOWMAN first, which is Nesbo's latest, and had to scramble to buy his earlier books.  Apparently THE SNOWMAN is the seventh in Nesbo's Inspector Harry Hole series, but not all have been translated into English yet.  Nesbo's books are, in a word, terrific! 

I agree with Ms. Lesser's points about the intricate and satisfying mysteries coming out of Scandinavia and translated into English.  I agree that they are on average better than most other mysteries.  And yes, like many people, I was blown away by Stieg Larsson's trilogy.  But not all great mystery writers are from the Scandinavian countries.  In defense of some of my favorite mystery writers, I'd have to include books by the following authors with a proven track record of at least three books as being in the same intensely satisfying category:  Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon of Italy, Cara Black, R.J. Ellory, Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos of America, just to name a few.

But this is not a global competition.  Any time an author writes a deeply satisfying and intelligent mystery, no matter what country he or she is from, as readers, we all win!

1 comment:

  1. Might not be a global competition, but Scandinavia is winning nonetheless! The climate sets a perfect environment for the stories, but it also seems like Scandinavia has a host of other elements that American writers can't draw from: ethnic divisions and post-Soviet crime communities are European elements that make these stories. Makes them work on global and local scales that let the authors build gripping stories that always seem to involve complicated relationships with foreign jurisdictions and local biases at the same time. They've caught me in their web!