Tag Archives: Hypothermia

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.

thumbs up for two books and an arrgghh

Echoes from the DeadCaite at A Lovely Shore Breeze recommends Johan Theorin’s Echoes from the Dead. Here’s an excerpt from her excellent review:

The story is told in two time frames, the present, with Julia and her father perusing a mystery that has tentacles that reach far back into the history of the island and also with flashbacks to the story of Nils, from the time he was a boy, a creepy, evil little boy, and through the terrible misadventures of his angry, violent life. They are connected, in ways that will surprise the reader and endanger the lives of the characters in the present day searching for the truth.

As a mystery, it is an excellent story. The setting on the island of Oland, a sunny beach resort filled with visitors in the summer, cold and deserted and rather bleak in a beautiful way the rest of the year, is perfect. It seems that the author has, in real life, spent a good deal of time there and it is telling. As the story of a woman trying to heal both herself and her relationship with her father, it is totally believable and ultimately hopeful. Well, not quite as much when the author throws us the last, totally surprising twist at the end.

Jose Ignacio Escribano reviews Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia, which he liked very much.

Although this book has a relatively simple plot it is superbly constructed and it is full of layers . . . I find it very difficult to explain why I like this book so much. Maybe because this is a book about sentiments and emotions. Sentiments and emotions are always very difficult to explain. All in all a fascinating book that makes a fascinating read. For me it is a very strong candidate to win the CWA International Dagger Award this year and, without question, one of the best books that I have also read this year. Indispensable. A must read.

Norm (aka Uriah) has finished the Scandinavian Reading Challenge and kindly posts all of his reviews in one handy place.

Karen held a couple of polls about the International Dagger and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest won both the “think will win” and “want to win” categories. Hypothermia was a close runner-up in the “want” category.

File under “AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!” Not only are they remaking a perfectly good movie, Variety reports “Sony hopes “Dragon” will launch a new franchise for the studio.” I want to reboot Sony and its franchise right down the stairs.

the next Stieg Larsson

Norm (aka Uriah) gets annoyed when the only criterion used for predicting the “next Stieg Larsson” is that the author is Swedish. Harrumph. But he does have some female authors to recommend.

There’s likely to be a lot of marketing that hinges on “the next Stieg Larsson” given that the original Stieg Larsson has had such an impact on the book industry. The Washington Post points out there are already many incredibly popular writers from Sweden and Norway, though most of them are arriving late to US shores. The feature starts out with a nice hook:

So you know about the insanely popular Scandinavian crime novelist, right, the author who has sold 3 million books in Sweden (pop. 9 million)? The one published in 40 languages? The crime-writing legend with more than 30 million books in print worldwide?

If you said the late Stieg Larsson, the publishing phenom who has sold more than 500,000 copies of his latest book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” in the month since it was released, who currently has the No. 1 book in hardcover fiction, trade paperback and mass-market paperback — well, get a clue.

Camilla Läckberg is the Swedish crime writer whose seven books have dominated Stockholm bestseller lists (she makes her American debut this week). Norwegian Jo Nesbø is the guy published in 40 languages. And Sweden’s Henning Mankell, the godfather of the Swedish crime thriller genre, has been moving millions of books the world over since creating police detective Kurt Wallander nearly two decades ago.

The New York Times also comments on the “what should I read / publish / get excited about next?” question when readers have finished Hornet’s / Hornets’ Nest.

“We call them ‘The Girl Who’s Paying Our Salaries for the Next Few Months,’ ” said Gerry Donaghy, the new-book purchasing supervisor [at Powell's].

But other customers are walking through the door, finished with all three books and pleading for something similar.

Which has given some booksellers pause. Mr. Larsson’s books have caught on because of their ambitious scope, complex characters, strong writing and quick storytelling, said Cathy Langer, the lead buyer for the Tattered Cover stores in Denver — maybe not because of their Scandinavian setting.

“It’s a tricky line to walk,” Ms. Langer said. “I’d probably ask them if they’d read any Henning Mankell. But if you try to duplicate the experience, you’re likely to disappoint the customer.”

Good call, Ms. Langer! Norm would approve.

The Book Maven writes about the impact the Washington Post article was already having on book buyers (as well as “How could they not have mentioned Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo?” – an omission mentioned also by Roberta at Books to the Ceiling) and how she enjoyed Camilla Lackberg’s first foray in the US (with The Ice Princess) with some reservations.

Maureen Corrigan at NPR says “let’s take a brief mental health break from those gloomy Swedes with their hard-to-pronounce-names” and recommends non-Scandinavian mysteries – but then breaks down and puts Henning Mankell’s The Man from Beijing on the list, because “no roundup of recent standout mysteries would be complete without Henning Mankell’s masterpiece of moral complexity.”

Mankell’s latest tale roams from a remote Swedish village turned necropolis to the American West of the 19th century, where Chinese indentured servants hacked through mountains to clear the way for the Transcontinental Railroad. In between are stops in modern-day Beijing and London, as well as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The thread connecting these disparate narratives is red, drenched in the blood of historical crimes and baroque retribution.

At The Australian, book reviewer Graeme Blundell takes a longer view, using Stieg Larsson’s success as a hook. Crime fiction has gained enormous popularity since he started reviewing, but there’s “mayhem in the mainstream” as public tastes turn to new favorites that can’t be predicted in advance. He traces the rise of the genre (along lines very similar to Patrick Anderson’s book The Triumph of the Thriller) as it stormed the bestseller lists.

A generation ago, crime writing was a minority taste, for many a puritan pleasure, not always admitted to in public; reading mysteries was a sabbatical for the serious-minded. The blockbusters of the ’60s and ’70s, for example, the novels of Irving Stone, Harold Robbins, John O’Hara, Jacqueline Susann and Herman Wouk, preferred to deal with sex, movie stars, religion and exotic foreign places rather than crime. Robert Crichton, Mary Renault, James Clavell were among those who followed and still no big time crime. Best-seller lists were subjugated by literary writers and masters of sex and junk. . . .

Crime novels were still largely written for the entertainment of the reader rather than for the sake of what the writer had to say or any social commentary. The best were about puzzle, riddle or place. Few novels threatened our complacency by deliberately exploiting anxiety in the reader and tapping into familiar criminal concerns the way the genre as a whole does now. “Even a decade ago people were apprehensive about publishing crime fiction,” Hachette Australia publisher Bernadette Foley says. “While crime fiction is based on well-knitted plots, astute storytelling and interesting ideas, they simply weren’t as prestigious as literary fiction. In the past, if you published crime you pretended you didn’t.”

Then it changed. Genres split in all directions as the world rapidly shrank with the process of globalisation, the movement of capital and the spread of technological innovations and ever-faster communications. . . .

And the rest is history. Peter Temple has just won Australia’s Miles Franklin award, the most prestigious award for fiction. Fiction, full stop. Well done, Australia!

If you’re wondering what to read next, you could read Temple’s Truth; otherwise, here are a few reviews to pique your interest:

Happy reading!

reviews and Hitchens on Larsson

Rhapsody in Books reviews The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and gives it high marks as the best of the trilogy – and gives it a thematic tag: women warriors (which struck me as interesting right after reading a recent installment of Unshelved which is about a book of women warriors who are kind of scary but can provide a leadership lesson of sorts …)

Peter reviews Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia, which he considers “the best novel so far in one of the best modern crime fiction series. A lovely book.”

Maxine’s review of Gunnar Staalesen’s The Consorts of Death has appeared at Eurocrime and says that, though most of the books in the series have not been translated and there are huge gaps between the volumes available in English, this is a fitting introduction to the main character, Varg Veum, since it provides his back story.

Norm has finished reading Hornets’ Nest and has plenty to say about the book and the entire trilogy.

And just as Stieg Larsson’s books are cropping up on “best of” lists, Christopher Hitchens offers a substantial appreciation (if that’s what it is … you can never quite tell with Hitchens) of Stieg Larsson’s Millennnium Trilogy, its author, and the neo-fascist movement in Sweden in the page of Vanity Fair. No, this Sweden is not the pacific and “herbivore” nation we imagine. And these stories are not heroic sagas, but modern and bleak.

Larsson is very much of our own time, setting himself to confront questions such as immigration, “gender,” white-collar crime, and, above all, the Internet. The plot of his first volume does involve a sort of excursion into antiquity—into the book of Leviticus, to be exact—but this is only for the purpose of encrypting a “Bible code.” And he is quite deliberately unromantic, giving us shopping lists, street directions, menus, and other details—often with their Swedish names—in full. The villains are evil, all right, but very stupid and self-thwartingly prone to spend more time (this always irritates me) telling their victims what they will do to them than actually doing it. There is much sex but absolutely no love, a great deal of violence but zero heroism. . . .  Bleakness is all. That could even be the secret—the emotionless efficiency of Swedish technology, paradoxically combined with the wicked allure of the pitiless elfin avenger, plus a dash of paranoia surrounding the author’s demise. If Larsson had died as a brave martyr to a cause, it would have been strangely out of keeping; it’s actually more satisfying that he succumbed to the natural causes that are symptoms of modern life.

a few more links

My new resolution is to get less backlogged, so here are a few more Scandinavian crime-related links.

Glenn Harper, who seems lucky in all things film and television-related, has not only been commenting on Scandinavian television series such as one based on Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series, he has some fascinating back story on the filming of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He is reassuring about the choice of the lead playing Lisbeth Salander – not an easy role to cast, but utterly key to the story.

A brief review of Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia in the Guardian gives me chills. Everything sounds very cold, indeed.

Also in the Guardian, Mark Lawson ponders what has made Larsson’s trilogy so popular and concludes that it’s a combination of feminising the genre making a conspiracy thriller that usually draws a male audience more accessible as well as the universality of failed government policies. He also thinks the author’s untimely death adds to the urgency of his social message. Of course, the sad conflict over the proceeds of the books is a drama all its own.

Mike Ripley reminds us again of the Battle of Maldon (“so many Vikings keen to advance”) and warns of another a new Swedish author to arrive on English shores soon, Camilla Ceder who will debut with Frozen Moment due out next summer when perhaps we’ll all need a cold drink and a chilly mystery.

cold comfort

Irresistible Targets takes aim at the latest Arnaldur Indridason novel in the Erlendur series and thinks Hypothermia scores a bull’s eye. Read the whole review; it’s a corker. But I can’t resist quoting some of it.

The book is billed ‘A Reykjavik Murder Mystery’, and there is enough old-style detection here to make this story almost cosy, the tale of a cleverly-worked out killing. But there is nothing cosy about the heart of the novel, which is about the real way people react to death, and to loss, and the way a shutting down, or closing off, a coldness toward the world, can have intense consequences. This is one reason Hypothermia, which also presents a clue in the murder mystery, may be a better title for a book called Hardskafi in Icelandic. This is a book about emotion, about love, about loss, and about closure. It doesn’t have a ‘happy’ ending, but it has the kind of ending that reflects exactly what it is saying about life and death. Indridason has been building to this point, carefully, with his previous books, yet you don’t need to have followed them to appreciate this one. But Hypothermia will take on added resonance if you have. It is a fine novel, the best yet in a very strong series, and as I said the best I’ve read thus far this year.

Definitely on my “read as soon as possible” list.

For the lucky souls who live in or near New York City, here’s a free event you’ll want to put in your calendar:
Where Fiction & Reality Collide: Norwegian Crime Fiction Panel

Date:
Monday, October 19, 2009
Time:
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Location:
Scandinavia House
Street:
58 Park Ave (@ 38th Street)

Despite the fact that the Global Peace Index ranked Norway as the third most peaceful country in the world and the homicide rates in Norway are among the lowest on the planet, more people are murdered every year in the pages of Norwegian crime novels than are murdered in Norway itself. A panel comprised of Norwegian crime authors Kjell Ola Dahl and Anne Holt, along with Norwegian Police Counselor, Odd Malme Berner and moderator Sarah Weinman, will discuss the rise of Norwegian crime fiction.
Supported by the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York.

Meanwhile, on the Girl Who front, Dorte and husband give us a sneak preview of the film version of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. I’m looking forward to the film, though the actress does not at all match my inner portrait of Lisbeth Salander. And as Dorte’s husband says, she does not appear to have Asperger’s. UPDATE: see the Bookwitch’s full review here.

This has come up before. I see from a quick “look inside” search of the first book that Bloomqvist speculates Lisbeth might have Asperger’s – because of her phenomenal memory and ability to see patterns (not that all Aspies have phenomenal skills). Of course, in the second book, many people assume Lisbeth is psychotic and illiterate – and are quite surprised to find out she’s none of the above. Somewhere in an online discussion Reg Keeland, the translator, expressed surprise at the Autism/Asperger’s assumption, but here I see someone comment at Bookwitch’s blog that Stieg Larsson confirmed she was an Aspie. And an interview with his editor also suggests Larsson had it in mind when creating the character.  So I’m not at all sure what to think. I’m not sure labels are really helpful.

If you want to read more about Asperger’s I recommend Asperger Square 8, an excellent and thought-provoking blog (including things about labels).