Wallander And Beyond

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An enthusiast's view of contemporary Scandinavian Crime Fiction

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  • This is presented by an enthusiast rather than an expert and this is personal trawl through Scandinavian crime that is not comprehensive but rather a look at the authors I enjoy and follow. Saying this is a talk about Scandinavian crime is a bit of a misnomer as it’s really about Swedish and Icelandic crime with one Norwegian interloper. No room for Danish or Finnish authors because I haven’t really found one that set’s my pulse racing Finding a starting point for this talk was easy as there is one Scandinavian writer is better known than all the rest and was in fact my starting point when I became interested in European Crime about 10 years ago. That is Henning Mankell and his character Wallander. The books were already popular but Mankell has found even more popularity through the showing of two Wallander TV series go to next slide
  • Portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in 3 stories shown on BBC 1 Krister Henriksson in the 13 story Swedish Series shown on BBC 4 some of which are based on the original stories others are new stories built around the characters. Linda plays a more central role
  • While he is known for the Wallander novels he has also written for children and teenagers as well as a number of stand alone novels for adults’ most recently Italian Shoes His books often include sub-plots set in Africa where he has lived a lot
  • Sold 30 million copies Mankell said that the Wallander novels have one under lying theme “What went wrong with Swedish Society” Themes – other parts of the world especially Africa and the Baltic states Family and relationships – his relationship to his daughter Linda and to his cantankerous father. Relationships with colleagues, his bosses (he isn’t the boss in name but he is in reality), junior officers he’s mentoring, Ebba, Miss Moneypenny role. The women in he has relationships with. Organised crime in it’s widest sense whether it is a political group, smugglers etc The effect the job of being a police officer has on family, health etc. And who is responsible for what is wrong in society, political And a themes that seem to run through Swedish crime authors – a sense of place, hardship imposed by the weather and a joy because of the weather, remoteness even in a city. A lot of things happen in the dark even in the daytime! The same themes that appear in Icelandic crime but interestingly not in Norwegian Who is Wallander? Middle aged police officer, divorced, he’s had a break down, the job is his life (he has aspirations that he never quite gets to house by the sea, a dog etc.). Very intuitive he often knows that something is important even if he doesn’t know why. He is genuinely shocked by crime even after all these years. Drink problem? Of course he has he’s a fictional detective 3 books to talk about: The Pyramid – Short stories – only published in the last year in Britain but a good starting point. Tells the story of Wallander before the novels. A young police officer, relationship with his father, marriage break up. But most interestingly how he learns his trade. Faceless killers – First novel good storyline – early January morning Wallander responses to a call out to a remote farmhouse to find a dead husband who has been tortured and a wife who is barely alive. The only clue is that the wife thinks the perpetrators were foreign. It’s a very dark novel partly because of the storyline but also because it is a dark time in Wallander’s life (wife left him, daughter not speaking to him and strained relationship with is father. Don’t let the darkness put you off as the story is really atmospheric and a good introduction to Wallander Before the Frost – Linda is now a policewoman and she moves to centre stage but only one in series because the actress who played the part in the Swedish series committed suicide and Mankell was so effected by that he couldn’t write another Read from The pyramid – pg 15 “he was wakened with a start by a bang………. To pg 17 …….had to be investigated
  • Echoes voted Best First Mystery Novel 2007 by the authors and critics of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers Darkest voted Best Swedish Crime Novel 2008 Set on the island of Oland in the Baltic Sea “ Echoes of the dead” Read pages 7-11 and then talk about the book a fantastic premise a little boy goes missing in 1972 as we’ve just heard. There is the normal upset, investigation as you would expect, but for the family no conclusion, no one’s arrested and no body is found. But twenty years later the boy’s grandfather receives a parcel in it there is a single child's shoe identical to the one Jens was wearing when he disappeared. A wonderful first novel, evocative, remote, wild and a real mystery. Especially when all the evidence starts to point to Nils Kant. But there is a small problem Nils died before Jens was even born
  • Like Mankell Nesser is one of the elder statesman of Swedish crime. Won Best Swedish Crime novel of the year 3 times. But it was on the back of Mankell’s success that is novels were published over here from 2006. Nesser’s novels are set in a made up place called Maardam. At various times he said the place is in Sweden, Germany, Poland and Holland. Most of the names are Dutch The main character is called Van Veeteren. He is a detective Chief Inspector in his 60’s and is almost a stereotypical fictional detective – divorced, two children, cynical and grumpy, very intuitive. Loves Chess There have been 4 novels published here there are a lot more to be translated. He retires and becomes an Antique Shop owner who helps the police when he can. They have been published out of order but you can kind of understand why because Borkmann’s point is superb, the others are merely good. Borkmann’s point isn’t a place it’s a principal – at some point in an investigation you will have gained all the information you require and all you need is decent thinking to find the solution. I like Hakan Nesser because the books, although often very dark, are written with a light and darkly humourous tone and are beautiful to read. BP illustrates this. The story is about a double axe murder but as these first two pages illustrate Nesser’s touch is light
  • Stieg Larsson is a phenomena, in the last year, if you don’t count James Patterson, Larsson has sold more books than anybody but Khaled Hosseni (Kite Runner) and most of those sales have been in translation. Unfortunately he didn’t live to see his success. They are wide ranging books, almost epic in their structure. They very cleverly push the boundaries of believability just enough to be exciting but not too much that you think it is utterly preposterous. This is a trilogy where the first book introduces the characters but really has a stand alone storyline. The second and third books use the same characters but 3 is really an immediate carry on of 2. The two main characters are Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who has been disgraced and Lisbeth Salander is a young, temperamental, delinquent and dangerous computer hacker who ends up working with Mikael to solve the mystery of a child’s disappearance many years before. Lisbeth is a brilliant character a real individual, a lose cannon and a strange and mysterious person. She is damaged but very sympathetic. Read page 33-36 our introduction to Lisbeth from the head of the security firm where she has been hired Outstanding everybody should read. The first book got passed around among my friends and nobody was disappointed
  • Just quickly Camilla isn’t in the class of the other writers I’ve talked about but she is getting there. Her first 4 books have been number 1 best sellers in Sweden and the first two “The Ice Princess” and “the Preacher” have been published in English. The Ice Princess is a good story and worth persevering with. It wanders around at the beginning and can’t seem to make up it’s mind about who the main character is but once it settles down it is a cracking story set in a very small town. Everybody thinks that the death of Alex was suicide but her childhood friend and a local detective are unsure. But it’s only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge. The second book is superb, the faults of the first book and it is a cracking story. Twenty years ago two young holiday makers disappear and now their bodies have been discovered along with a fresh victim
  • I’ve been meaning to read Jo Nesbo for a while as several friends have recommended him. Being asked to do this talk was the catalyst I needed to get on with it and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve read a few Norwegian writers and they are very different to other Scandinavian writer. This is true of Nesbo as well. Norwegian crime is driven by the storyline whereas Swedish crime is driven by the characters and the places. Norwegian crime is very American in style. So it is less of a slow pleasure and more of a full on rollercoaster ride. More thriller than typical crime fiction. Nesbo’s main character is Harry Hole. Like a lot of detectives he has a drink problem but possibly the most serious drink problem in crime fiction. He is a non-functioning drunk. The only way he can solve crimes is by total abstinence for time it takes to solve the mystery. Like Rebus and Wallander he is a policeman that has a sixth sense about what is important and a very cerebral method of solving crime. He may be a drunk but he is as honest a policeman who you will find who tackles corruption at all levels. Read from ch2 pg 14. Crime Squad Chief Inspector Moller has just been notified of a crime and must find some detectives to send to it and they are in short supply because of the holidays
  • Icelandic crime fiction is very similar in it’s style to that of Swedish Crime writing. Characters and place are very important. Ysra is relatively new writer. Her first novel “Last rituals” was published in 2005. 3 more have been published since, only 2 have been translated so far and she’s still not a full time writer – Civil Engineer. Last Ritual was a cracking first book that introduced her main character Thora Gudmundsdottir a lawyer. The story is not for the faint hearted with a brutal murder and graphic murder and a storyline that explores the darker aspects of Iceland's past looking at witchcraft and torture in the past and present. Highly recommended and I’m looking forward to the second in the series “My Soul to take”
  • I’m going to finish with my favourite Scandinavian writer, next to Mankell, Arnaldur Indridason. Indridason’s stories are set in Reykjavik and centre around Detective Erlendur. Another character in the mould of Wallander. There are lots of similarities especially the relationship between Erlendur and his daughter. Eva is a drug addict who goes through periods of blaming her father for walking out on her when she was a child and actively seeking out his company. I think it is this added dimension of a very real family situation along with a quite traditional whodunit and Iceland as a stunning back drop that makes these books very special. Jar City begins with the discovery of murder victim a 70 year old man. The detectives find it very difficult to find any clues to help understand why such a private man should be killed. It is only when they start to look along way into the past an horrific crime that was committed then, that they begin to understand the present. A tightly plotted novel that is beautifully written and very atmospheric. The novels that follow are equally good, there’s not one that disappoints or leaves you thinking that the high standards that Indridason set himself in Jar city We will finish with the opening to Jar City. I hoped you have enjoyed this enthusiasts introduction to Scandinavian crime and I hope you are inspired to give some of the books I’ve talked about today a whirl Read first chapter
  • Wallander And Beyond

    1. 1. Wallander and Beyond A guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction
    2. 2. Wallander and television
    3. 3. Henning Mankell <ul><li>Born in Stockholm 1948 </li></ul><ul><li>Has written 9 novels featuring Wallander (written in the 90’s)+ a collection of short stories </li></ul><ul><li>Before the Frost – novel with Linda Wallander as the main character </li></ul><ul><li>Worked a great deal in the theatre and founded Avenida Theatre in Mozambique where he spends a lot of his time </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Wallander Books The Troubled Man (2011?) Firewall One Step Behind The Fifth Woman Side-tracked The Man who Smiled The White Lioness Dogs of Riga Faceless Killers The Pyramid – Short stories
    5. 5. Swedish Crime Johan Theorin Hakan Nesser Camilla Lackberg Steig Larsson
    6. 6. Henning Mankell Ystad Hakan Nesser ? Camilla Lackberg “ Fjallbacka” Johan Theorin “ Oland” Steig Larsson “Hedestad and Stockholm”
    7. 7. Johan Theorin <ul><li>Born 1963 in Gothenburg </li></ul><ul><li>Echoes of the Dead (2007) </li></ul><ul><li>The Darkest Room (2008) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Hakan Nesser <ul><li>Borkmann’s Point (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>The Return (2007) </li></ul><ul><li>The Minds Eye (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Woman with a Birthmark (2009) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Stieg Larsson <ul><li>The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The Girl who played with Fire (2009) </li></ul><ul><li>The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2009) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Camilla Lackberg <ul><li>The Ice Princess (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The Preacher (2009) </li></ul><ul><li>The Stonecutter (forthcoming) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Norwegian Crime Jo Nesbo (Karin Fossum, Anne Holt and Gunnar Staalesen)
    12. 12. Jo Nesbo “Oslo”
    13. 13. Jo Nesbo <ul><li>Harry Hole Novels </li></ul><ul><li>The Redbreast (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Nemesis (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The Devil’s Star (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>The Redeemer (2009) </li></ul>
    14. 14. Icelandandic Crime Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir
    15. 15. Arnaldur Indridason “Reykjavik” Yrsa Sigurdardottir “ Reykjavik”
    16. 16. Ysra Sigurdardottir <ul><li>Last Rituals (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>My Soul to Take (2009) </li></ul>
    17. 17. Arnaldur Indridason <ul><li>Tainted Blood also known as Jar City (2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Silence of the Grave (2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Voices (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>The Draining Lake (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Arctic Chill (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothermia (2007) </li></ul>

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