Jo Nesbo is touring the US (particularly parts with Norwegian immigrant populations, including the Ballard district of Seattle) with the belated release of The Devil’s Star. The Seattle Times recommends his books and I agree with Mary Ann Gwinn when she says “somehow, thanks to the author’s feel for his hometown, these gritty stories made me want to flag down the next plane to Norway.”
The Telegraph takes its turn at exploring the popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction, but in the larger context of a discovery that Sweden is not all Ikea. Or rather, that Ikea’s founder has recently fessed up to having joined a neo-Nazi group in his youth. “Everywhere you turn – in film, music, literature, fashion and design – there’s a powerful Swedish presence,” the article says, then discusses the film release of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It gives Henning Mankell the last word:
So have we got Sweden all wrong? Is it still essentially a nation of Vikings? Mankell bristles at the suggestion. “I would like to emphasise that Sweden is a very decent society to live in,” he insists. “It would be ridiculous to say anything else. But we could have been better today if we had been different before – if we hadn’t thrown a few babies out with some of our bathwater. I would like to change that and we can only change by discussing. We know that if our system of justice doesn’t work, democracy is doomed. I think we are worried about that, so maybe that is why detective stories are so popular in Sweden.
“Until recently it was a very cold isolated culture. Our art can’t bring about social change, but you cannot have social change without arts.”
Actually, if you want a taste of the dark side, read the comments. It would be impossible to publish a crime story with so much conflict, bitterness, and xenophobia since it would be considered completely over the top.