six things

Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise, who got a “Best Observer of All Things Mysterious” award kindly bestowed the favor on me by giving me a “Caring about Scandinavian Crime Fiction Award” – and has tagged me in a meme.  My task is to name six values that are important to me, six qualities I can’t tolerate, and six bloggers who deserve awards. Even though memes have always seemed like some kind of benign Ponzi scheme, here goes – with a mysterious twist. I’ll focus on what I value and dislike in crime fiction.

Mysteries I value have:

  • interesting observations about society,
  • well-developed, fully-human characters,
  • an interesting, well-paced plot that keeps me engaged,
  • a vivid sense of place,
  • a strong sense of justice that’s ruled by compassion,
  • and writing that is graceful and expressive without being too self-conscious.

Things I can do without in mysteries:

  • Serial killer stories in which women are stalked, tortured and killed in loving detail; we are not amused.
  • Bad guys who are monsters; so far as I’m concerned, only human villains need apply.
  • Bad guys who are insane; people who are mentally ill have enough problems, already.
  • good guys who are beautiful/handsome, independently wealthy and drive really nice cars.
  • books that seem too have been written while consulting a “how to write mysteries” book.
  • books that pretend to delve into the heart of evil but are actually as fake as ketchup pretending to be blood

One of the reasons I find Scandinavian crime fiction so satisfying is that it seems anchored in real human emotions that play out in a genuine time and place. There’s no need to invent over-the-top monstrousness in a world where the ordinary cruelties we visit on one another are dramatic enough.

So here are my six awards:

Gott nytt År to all!

4 thoughts on “six things

  1. Thanks for doing the meme Barbara. I am always of two minds about – flattered that someone chose ME, dreading actually having to do it so that I can honestly accept the award, and then quaking in my boots at having to nominate others (who may then strike me off their list of friends)
    All your awardees are well deserving of the honours you have bestowed on them, and I hope they continue to talk to you, and, by proxy, me.

    And just bye-the-bye, Merry Christmas

  2. Barbara: Thanks for the award (and Kerrie: thanks for the meme that inspired it). Barbara, I wholeheartely agree with your “values” and “do withouts,” as well as your assessment of the virtues of Scandinavian crime fiction. Judging from what’s been translated, the Scandinavians are focused singularly on daily life and ordinary folks, criminals, victims, and investigators alike. It is great to be able to read them now that translations are finally becoming common (since my Swedish isn’t up to subtle prose and my Norsk, Danish, or Finnish are nonexistent).

  3. Thanks very much Barbara for the award, Critical Perspicacity and in such company. I am chuffed.
    I think we can agree on all your values especially being able to do without in mysteries [and real life] ‘handsome independently wealthy guys who drive nice cars’. My daughters disagree with me on that one.
    Thanks to all of you for the hours of pleasure I get from reading your blogs.
    I shall be starting my big Swedish read in the New Year, Stieg Larsson [number two] then Asa Larsson followed by three Hakan Nessers, it should be fun.

  4. I’m a little behind with my Google Alerts post-holidays, but I just wanted to say “thank you,” Barbara, for honoring the blog with your kind comments. I have to say “back at ya” because of the many projects you’ve spearheaded in the crime fiction world, of which this blog and its related site are just one part (but a very amazing part, at that). Happy New Year to you!

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