Sunday, 20 January 2013

Nordic Noir

I've been reading Norway's 'Queen of Crime' Karin Fossum while the snow falls outside.  She writes psychological crime fiction and her novels feature Inspector Konrad Sejer a grey-haired senior detective with a kind heart and steely determination.  In Don't Look Back Sejer investigates the death of a young woman whose body is found by a Norwegian lake. She is lying so peacefully with her face close to the edge of the water she could almost be asleep and someone has thrown a coat over her body as if to keep her warm.  I liked the close-knit small village atmosphere and the descriptions of the Nordic pines surrounding the lake.  Occasionally a sentence or word jars a little and I suspect that something has been lost in the translation but this is an exciting read with an unsettling twist on the final page.

I then read Bad Intentions about the apparent suicide of a teenager.  Sejer is unconvinced by the statements of his friends and when an artist painting at Glitter Lake inadvertently discovers the body of another teenager events begin to fall into place.  Call Me is also about a teenager with a fondness for macabre practical jokes and a pet guinea pig named Bleeding Heart!

I have to say that I raced through these books but after spending so much time in the company of thieves, liars, perverts and murderers I began to think about an interview I read with Anne Tyler in The Guardian where she was quoted as saying 'there aren't enough quiet, gentle, basically good people in a novel.'  I'm enjoying my foray into Scandi-crime, but I'm not sure it is a genre I could read exclusively.


Audrey said...

A good intro to Scandi-crime, do you think? I've never read any...and I like the sound of Sejer.

Cornflower said...

I think I'm with Anne Tyler - a little of the dark side goes a long way.

Susan said...

I enjoyed the same mystery, I read it a few years ago. I've been reading alot of Scandinavian noir for a few years now, and really enjoy it. As we have long cold winters here too in Canada, it always makes me feel better that we aren't the only ones suffering! lol

Asa Larson is another good author, Arnuldur Indridason (Iceland is too. They both have commentary on life and society in their books which I enjoy. It's interesting to get another perspective on crime, mystery, life, through fiction.

Though, after a while, I too want to read some non-mysteries and do so, to take a break from the darkness they often contain.
Do you reach for classics or humour or a type of book in particular, or just something at that moment? I often reach for fantasy, as a complete change of pace.

Alex said...

I do enjoy Scandinavian crime, but Fossum isn't an author I've tried as yet. Have you read Anne Holt or Helene Tursten? if not, I can highly recommend them.

I have been avoiding snowy fiction this weekend. With ten inches outside I really don't want the cold wet stuff inside as well.

Cath said...

I've read very little Scandinavian crime, I think because I haven't found any that suits me. I do like the sound of this detective though so will maybe try the series.

Shelley said...

Thank you for that quote from Anne Tyler. It's something writers need, periodically, to hear.

We need the reassurance!

Sunday Taylor said...

I love that quote by Anne Tyler! Reading these Scandinavian mysteries while the snow fall outside sounds very fitting. I have seen the pictures of London in the snow and it looks like a winter wonderland.

Penny O'Neill said...

Scandi-crime. Something new and another author for me to encounter. Thanks for these reviews.

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Vintage Reading said...

Audrey, yes I like Sejer, too. With my (limited!) knowledge of Scandi crime I would recommend Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo to start with, though. Do hope you post!

Karen, me too!

Susan, yes I want to try the Icelandic writers, too. I read four Nordic Noir titles in a row and then had to switch to Austen ... because nobody writes like Austen!

Alex, I've scoured my local bookstores for Helene Tursten but no joy, will order from Amazon. We;ve had snow, too. Would be interesting to read Scandi-crime in a heatwave!

Cath, I'm still very much feeling my way. I like Sejer but I prefer Martin Beck from the Sjowall/Wahloo books.

Hi Shelley, yep, my favourite writers - Tyler, Austen - write about life as it is.

Sunday, feeling the Anne Tyler love! I've just started The Amateur Marriage which is wonderful so far.

Hi Penny, thanks for dropping by!

Vintage Reading said...

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Melwyk said...

I find Scandi-crime too gory for me much of the time, but Karin Fossum is the exception. I really enjoy her books, even the non-Sejer ones.