Three Seconds, many reviews

Three Seconds, Roslund & Hellstrom’s gritty thriller (with a slow fuse), is getting a lot of attention as it is released in the U.S. A sampler:

The Booklover loves it – though if you haven’t read it yet, the review has a bit of a spoiler (though to be honest, so does the cover description on the book).

USA Today deems it “as good if not better than Larsson’ and concludes “gun play, explosions, betrayals and the ingenious ways drugs and weapons are smuggled into prisons give this novel, Roslund & Hellström’s fifth, an eau de testosterone level that’s through the roof.” Sounds terribly Hollywood in their description.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times is uncharacteristically snarky, writing that the authors “know how to deliver the kind of stilted, world-weary verbosity that somehow quickens the pulses of this genre’s readers. Even better, they are on a first-name basis with the Seven Dwarfs of Scandinavian Noir: Guilty, Moody, Broody, Mopey, Kinky, Dreary and Anything-but-Bashful.” She admires the “devilishness” of drug-smuggling plot details, but dislikes “the tiresome, vaguely flawed character development that comes with them.”

Marilyn Stasio, crime reviewer for the Sunday New York Times Book Review, is not so dismissive, though doesn’t really say whether she thinks the book was good or not.

ABC News pronounces it “highly entertaining.’

IUBookGirl thinks that Three Seconds starts off as slowly, as did the Girl Who Keeps Being Mentioned, but just as she was wondering whether to carry on, it  kicks in with a vengeance. “Three Seconds has a smart, intricate, well-written plot that I think any thriller or crime novel fan will enjoy.”

JC Patterson, book reviewer for the Madison County, Mississippi, Herald also gives it two thumbs up. He writes, “the second half of Three Seconds is psychological suspense on a grand scale.”  T. S. O’Rourke says the same thing. Literally. Word for word. I’m confused: which of these two writers said them first?  They were both posted on January 6th. Who done it?

Publisher’s Weekly interviews the two authors, who won’t say who does what in their collaboration.

In other news  …

There’s a new website on the block, scandinaviancrimefiction.com – “your literary portal into northern deviance.” So far there is information on 15 Swedish and Norwegian authors, plus links to articles on the Nordic crime wave. There will be more to come, it seems.

Australia and New Zealand are the market for the first English translations of Danish crime fiction author Elsebeth Engholm. I wonder if the UK and US will catch up? Everyone else seems to be publishing them [pout].

Kimbofo reviews Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia and says something I thought when I read the book, but couldn’t put nearly so well:

…what made this book truly work for me was the way in which Indriðason makes you genuinely feel for the victims and the parents of the missing. How he achieves this is a kind of magic, because his writing style is so understated and sparse it seems devoid of emotion. And yet, by the time you reach the last page, it’s hard not to feel a lump forming in your throat…

Kerrie reviews Sjowall and Wahloo’s The Man Who Went Up in Smoke and gives it high marks.

Lizzy Siddal, inspired by the BBC Nordic Noir documentary, reports on her reading of Mankell and Nesser, and finds Nesser’s Woman With Birthmark more enjoyable than The Pyramid (partly because she finds Wallander annoying). She’s currently reading Staalesen, so we can hope for a “part two” post.

God, Sweden sounds gruesome,” writes David Blackburn in the Spectator’s Book Blog, where he reviews the forthcoming and final volume of the Kurt Wallander series, The Troubled Man. He thinks highly of Mankell as a writer:

Mankell’s stylistic poise survives translation. His prose’s quiet brilliance is reminiscent of Coetzee’s easy precision; and there is something persuasive and seductive about both at their best. The plots aren’t too shoddy either. The descriptive passages and attentive structure provide long hits of suspense for those who won’t follow Mankell into demanding territory. Anything Steig could do; Mankell can still do better.

Martin Edwards isn’t sure he likes the Rolf Lassgard version of Kurt Wallander being broadcast on BBC, but enjoyed the episode, “The Man Who Smiled.”

Peter Rozovsky asks about Sjowall and Wahloo’s habit of featuring protagonists other than Martin Beck, and sets off an interesting conversation (as always).

Hat tip to Nordic Noir (online home for the Nordic Noir book club is organized by staff in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at University College London) for this interview in the Scotsman of Gunnar Staalesen, which I had missed. He says, of his hero, Varg Veum, “Varg is my take on Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, the holy trinity of American crime writers, who have really inspired me, particularly Chandler, whose writing I admire very much.” The character ages in real time, so he is nearing retirement of the permanent sort. Staalesen discusses the direction his possible demise might take and how it might lead to a fork in the series’ road.

And finally …

Lucky Londoners! Hakkan Nesser will be speaking at “Shadows in the Snow,” part of the Nordic Noir book club’s series of events. Mark your calenders for February 3rd, 6:30-9:00 if you are fortunate enough to attend.

Nordic, like the Netherlands

Maureen Corrigan annexes the Netherlands as part of the Nordic world and ponders the stylistic difference between the Martin Beck series and the Millennium Trilogy.

The Independent has a story on how publishing Stieg Larsson’s trilogy moved Quercus from small publisher to major player.

Peter raves about the fifth Annika Bengtzon mystery by Liza Marklund, Red Wolf. It sounds quite action-packed.

Maxine offers a tour of her favorite Swedish haunts, which are numerous, along with a handy listing of her reviews of books from that country.

She also reviews Hakan Nesser’s The Inspector and Silence and thinks it’s excellent, though it sounds relatively pensive as the hero contemplates doing anything but the frustrating work of detecting.

At last! Martin Edwards had teased us by mentioning an intriguing little book on the Swedish crime story. He has now returned with a report. The first Swedish crime story was by Prins Pirre in 1893; early practitioners studied Doyle, Poe, and Christie; and the author of the small tome, Bo Lundin, divides the newer folks (up to 1980) into those afflicted with “the Trenter Syndrome” (those like Stieg Trenter, a writer who used Stockholm as a backdrop) and “the ulcer syndrome” for books that, like Martin Beck, suffer from the disappointments of modern life. Thanks for the report, Martin, and may we all enjoy the ulcer syndrome without any troublesome symptoms.

Though it’s a bit BSP-ish to link to this article I wrote for Spinetinger, the closing paragraphs deal with why I think Stieg Larsson has taken a worn-out trope – violence against women – and handled it in an unusually affirming way.

bits and bobs

James Thompson gives Snow Angels the Page 69 test. (For the uninitiated, this is a blog where authors discuss what turns up on page 69 and what it reveals about the book; it’s part of an ambitious web of blogs that are on a Campaign for the American Reader. There is no need to wonder “what should I read next?” ever again. Ever!!!!)

Apparently Hakkan Nesser never did make it to India for the planned week focused on Scandinavian crime fiction. A certain volcano in Iceland is to blame. The party in Bangalore went on regardless and it sounds as if everyone had a good time hearing, among other things, from a Swede living in India writing a novel about Scandinavistan.

There’s a nice piece on “what I know about Iceland now that I’ve read Arnaldur Indridason” from a blogger at the Calgary public library.

And Norm (aka Uriah) reports in on his relationship with The Man from Beijing.