Swedish Crime is on the Climb (Part Four)

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This is the last of four in my series on Swedish crime writers (until I discover and read more!), I hope you get lots of enjoyment from some if not all, should you dare to be so ambitious as to read all! But why not, can you think of a better pastime? And should you have a different  view from me on any, do share by commenting on any of the posts, I will take no offence (or try not to!). Happy reading.

Kerstin Ekman (b.1933) is the author of Blackwater (1996) 2 stars, a novel set in remote northern Sweden. Teacher Annie Raft stumbles upon the bodies of two campers, apparently stabbed to death in their sleep. The crime remains unsolved until eighteen years later when she sees the man she suspected of being responsible for the murders in the arms of her daughter. I didn't really enjoy this book I'm afraid, I found it slow and uninvolving. I have just finished another of her books, Under the Snow (1997), which I am going to desist from giving a star rating for the simple reason that I am not sure if it were the book or me on this occasion, but, well, when the shortest book (164 pages) I have read in a long time takes me an inordinate amount of time to read, something is amiss.

If you have read it and liked it I would welcome being told to read it again (and when I am more focused!). The book itself is set in a remote region of Lapland and concerns David and Constable Tornson trying to discover the truth behind the death of David's friend amidst a small community most unwilling to co-operate in revealing the truth behind the death.

Frozen MomentCamilla Ceder's (b.1976) first time novel Frozen Moment (2010) 3 stars is set around Gothenberg in western Sweden and involves Inspector Christian Tell trying to find the connection between two similar murders, the murders also being of interest to budding young journalist Seja, with whom Christian develops a relationship. In parallel the tragic story of teenager Maya unfolds, and gradually her story and how it relates to the two deaths is revealed. This is rather good for a first time novel, and I look forward to her next

Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End by PerssonLeif G.W. Persson's (b.1945) Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End (2002, transl. 2011) 2 stars is a lengthy (560 pages), intricate, slow-paced novel that does not make for an easy read. It has been described as thought-provoking and insightful; it involves crime, corruption, murky politics and espionage; it has lots of characters (too many in my view), and right throughout dialogue and thoughts are intermixed, which might not be to everyone's taste. Supposedly the first in a trilogy, at its centre is the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister, Olaf Palme, in 1986, and one might have to remind oneself that this is a work of fiction based on factual events. But many have seen it as offering a possible explanation of actual events, and for that reason I understand it has provoked a lot of debate in Sweden itself. Anyways, I found it overly long and slow and having too many characters, with the story hopping all over the place.

RoseannaNow some might say I have left the best 'til last, however that is a matter of opinion; but definitely it can be said that I have left 'til last the doyens, the king and queen, the godparents, of Swedish crime writing. Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, those most famous of (husband and wife) writing teams and the creators of the Martin Beck detective series, have always been the yardstick by which other crime writers, and by default Nordic, are judged. Of the ten books in the Beck series I have read five, and these are as follows; Cop Killer (1974) 4 stars, Roseanna (1965) 3.5 stars, The Abominable Man (1971) 3.5 stars, Investigation of Murder (aka The Laughing Policeman) (1968) 3 stars and The Locked Room (1972) 3 stars. Beck, a policeman in Stockholm's National Homicide Department, is a tall, middle-aged man, who goes from being an unhappily married man with two teenage kids to being a divorced father in a second relationship. The books are somewhat formulaic, each with ten chapters, with Per and Maj writing alternate chapters (or so I believe). And while they do have that formulaic feel for me, that has not detracted from my enjoyment of those I have read to date and I will gladly read the rest in time. The books have also been described as social commentaries on Sweden in the 1960s and 70s. They are classics, all being made into films or turned into TV series.

You might also like to read this article about The Queen of Crime

And yet to read, but sounding promising (Three Seconds in particular):

Rosslund and Hellström (Cell 8  - The Independent Review and Three Seconds - Eurocrime Review).

See also Swedish Crime is on the Climb (Part One), Part Two, and Part Three.

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