more authors to watch for

Tonica, our Scandinavian talent scout, profiles two more favorite writers who have not yet been published in English.

Leena Lehtolainen is a Finnish mystery writer, who writes about female cop Maria Kallio. Maria is married and has a little daughter (and a cat), but sometimes glances at other men . . . Finland is in many ways like Sweden, but in other ways different and it’s those differences that fascinate me. [Note: me too!]

Anna Jansson is a nurse who turned to writing mysteries. Her books are set on the island of Gotland. The setting is one reason I find these books so interesting. Gotland is a very special place, with a fascinating history. Her heroine is female cop Maria Wern. She seems quite intelligent, but not particulary tough, not like the tv version, played by Eva Röse, who is an excellent Swedish actress.

Thanks again for the heads up on books we’d like to read if only we read Swedish (or Finnish).

Reg takes a break from translating to give us the backstory on Stieg Larsson’s titles.

Meanwhile, John Dugdale rounds up summer “thrillers” in the Times (UK) and is disappointed in Karin Fossum’s The Water’s Edge.

Fossum is usually ranked with the best of the Scandinavian crime invaders, but here it’s a little hard to see what the fuss is about. Sejer is almost parodically colourless, the writing is merely functional, and The Water’s Edge is only half-heartedly a whodunnit. But if you’re in search of an ­antidote to the in-your-face energy of ­American crime fiction, this quiet, ­slender, bracingly bleak tale could well be it.

Er, well, that’s actually the point. It’s about the most shocking and hot-button issue, the ultimate crime, pedophilia. But rather than indulge in Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare or putting us Face to Face with Pure Evil, this book is about ordinary people and the way that evil isn’t pure at all. I take issue with the claim that “the writing is merely functional.” It’s understated on purpose in contrast to the usual “let’s throw more fuel on.” There’s a place for expressive prose and in-depth character analysis, but not if you’re telling this story, this way.  It’s an artful choice, and it’s carried off skillfully.