Glen Harper reviews Mari Jungstedt’s The Inner Circle (apparently published in the UK under the title A Lonely Place – shades of Dorothy Hughes) finding the setting and the straightforward style to overcome what might be a melodramatic plot. In a comment, Maxine mentions she found it the weakest of the three books in the series because of the cliched plotline. I’ll link to her Euro Crime review here when it’s published.
While I’m at it, I’ll mention that many Scandinavian writers were mentioned by readers who took up Kerrie’s challenge at Mysteries in Paradise to list their top crime fiction reads of 2008. It’s a wonderfully international list of people’s favorites.When Kerrie totted up the results, Stieg Larsson topped the list with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Also mentioned by more than one blogger: Arnaldur Indridason (Arctic Chill and The Draining Lake), Jo Nesbo (The Redbreast, The Devil’s Star, Nemesis), and Karen Fossum (Black Seconds). Also mentioned by readers were Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, Kjell Eriksson’s Demon of Dakar, Asa Larsson’s Sun Storm / Savage Altar, Johan Theorin’s Echoes from the Dead, Yrsa Siggarddottir’s Last Rituals, and Hakan Nesser’s The Mind’s Eye.
What strikes me, reading this list, is that though we tend to think of “Scandinavian crime fiction” as if it’s a unitary thing, there’s a great deal of variety. Perhaps there are gloomy detectives (Erlendur and Wallander qualify) but Van Veeteren isn’t – and though Nesbo’s Harry Hole has his problems and makes a few extra in case he runs short, gloom isn’t part of his character. They are realistic and deal with social issues, but there’s a touch of a Gothic element in Johan Theorin’s work, and some wildly inventive dramatics in that of Asa Larsson – not to mention a greater incidence of ritual murder and bizarre behavior than is generally found in real life. One generalization that I think can be made fairly is that there’s a lot of crime fiction being written, and a lot of it is extraordinarily good. Maybe that’s the only commonality we really need.