It must be spring. News and reviews are springing up all over.
The Seattle Times notices the allure of scruffy Scandinavian detectives as Lit Life editor Mary Ann Gwin previews the Branagh Wallander, soon to appear in the US, and interrogates J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Bookstore.
Glenn Harper of International Noir reviews Camilla Läckberg’s The Preacher – “Part Cain and Abel, part Elmer Gantry.” And a touch of Maeve Binchy in the family dynamics. He finds it’s a northern sort of Southern Gothic.
Maxine reviews Karin Alvtegen’s Missing and recommends you clear your calendar to read it all in one go. It’s “a tensely exciting book with an extremely sympathetic and capable main character.” Alvtegen has been touring the US in advance of the Edgar awards banquet on April 30th. Missing is up for an award, having finally been published in the US.
Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times advises that “writers write about dull subjects at their peril.” Yet Hakan Nesser’s Woman With a Birthmark pulls it off, turning the murder of a very dull man into a compelling story.
In the annual mystery issue of Library Journal Wilda Williams speculates that US publisher’s infatuation with Scandinavian crime may be cooling off.
Poisoned Pen Press editor Barbara Peters believes the globalization of crime fiction has become a permanent feature of the mystery world. The question today is whether chilly, Nordic thrillers will continue to appeal to American readers seeking to escape their domestic troubles. The verdict so far is mixed.
“We’ve only seen the popularity of Scandinavian crime writers grow since the initial U.S. media frenzy hit in the early 2000s,” says Picador senior publicist Lisa Mondello Fielack. She notes that Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason continues to do well for the paperback imprint especially after the movie of his Jar City became the highest-grossing film in Iceland’s history. An American remake now in the works may stir further reader interest.
Fielack argues that as new writers such as Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) enter the mix, the Scandinavian crime pool only seems to have grown stronger. Out this month are Håkan Nesser’s Woman with a Birthmark (Pantheon), Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s My Soul To Take (Morrow), and Inger Frimansson’s Island of the Naked Women (Pleasure Boat). Larsson’s second novel in his acclaimed trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire (Knopf), debuts in August. In October, Sarah Crichton Books/FSG will publish Box 21, a Swedish thriller by Börge Hellström and Anders Roslund. Even suspense juggernaut James Patterson is catching the Nordic crime wave by partnering with Swedish crime writer Liza Marklund (The Bomber, LJ 5/1/01) on a thriller set in Stockholm (to be published in 2010 in Sweden).
Other publishers, however, think the field has been saturated. “Our Scandinavian titles received rave reviews in the past, but sales have decreased,” comments Grand Central Publishing assistant editor Celia Johnson. “With any mystery book, the challenge is to produce something that stands out in a crowded marketplace.”
My question: why a remake of Jar City? I haven’t even seen the original one yet.
The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies is meeting in Madison, Wisconsin this week. On the agenda are some talks I’d love to hear.
“Swedish Crime Queens and the Economics of Popular Culture,” Sara Kärrholm, Lund University
“Swedish Crime Fiction and (the Lack of) Science,” Kerstin Bergman, Lund University
“Crime Tourism and the Branding of Places: An Expanding Market in Sweden,” Carina Sjöholm, Lund University
“Out of Place: Geographical Fiction(s) in Håkan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren Series,” Jennifer Jenkins, Pacific Lutheran University
Hat tip to Janet Rudolph for this lovely video about Iceland, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and My Soul to Take.