Mike Ripley, who faults Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room for its unsympathetic characters and “sheer bloody glumness” also makes time to criticize publishers for jumping aboard the bandwagon and readers of the “chattering classes” who embrace translations- and translators who don’t embrace the genre they’re translating. Not one to hide his feelings, he also admits to being still a bit sore about the Battle or Maldon (back in 991 – how time flies). But now Maxine, bristling at the one-two punch of criticism of Euro Crime’s editing (not censoring) of a previous Ripster review and that “chattering classes” tag, strikes back in an open letter at Petrona.
I confess that I am one of those who in recent years have discovered novels by authors such as Maj Sjowall/Per Wahloo, Johan Theorin, Helene Tursten, Liza Marklund, Asa Larsson, Stieg Larsson, Anne Holt, Kjell Ericksson, Yrsa Sigurdadottir, Ake Edwardson, Inger Frimansson, Camilla Lackberg, Karin Fossum, Hakan Nesser, Arnaldur Indridason, Jo Nesbo and others from the Scandinavian region. Before then, I had thought these countries’ entire crime-fiction output was written by Henning Mankell. While many (but not all) of these books are admittedly not primarily exciting, action-packed thrillers, most are either variants on the traditional police-procedural, or rely on a combination of character dynamics, atmosphere and a sense of place to hold reader interest. Some are even funny.
She goes on to describe how much she enjoys crime fiction from other parts of the world – including the US and UK – and defends her own independence as a reader: “I’m a reasonably well-read, old and broadly educated person, so while my enthusiasm for Nordic noir may certainly be considered strange, it isn’t copy-cat, vacuous or jejune.” Though as she signs off as “Confessed reading addict – with a confessed current bias towards Scandinavia” and “Confessed admirer of Mike Ripley” it’s a good bet that those maces and pikes with which they’re going at it are tipped with a coating of irritable humor.
Norm (aka Uriah) reviews Theorin’s The Darkest Room and doesn’t not find it glum.
This brilliant novel is part ghost story, part detective story, and a really gripping thriller. The book reads as if written in English so translator Marlaine Delargy has done a very good job. The human characters are all well drawn but the island of Oland and its folklore are the dominating characters . . . This is a beautifully constructed story with all the various threads and layers interwoven so cleverly, but as with most good crime fiction nothing is quite as it seems and there are some unseen and unexpected twists at the end. This is without doubt one of the best crime fiction books I have read in 2009.
Margaret Cannon reviews The Girl Who Played With Fire for the Globe and Mail, adding to the enthusiasm.
Tim Cornwell in The Scotsman interviews Henning Mankell who is in Edinburgh to talk about Italian Shoes (which isn’t a mystery) but he’s much more interested in the upcoming publication of The Troubled Man, billed as the final Wallander mystery.
More on Wallander on the Tube – Glenn Harper at International Crime Fiction discusses The Tricksters (far from perfect but “enjoyable enough TV-crime-show fare”) and Norm reviews The Photographer and hopes we see other television as well, such as the Irene Huss series. (Yes, please!)
And Norm also has a nice tribute to humor as it is used in Scandinavian crime.