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Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part Three)

Continuing my look at Swedish crime writers, this is the third instalment (of four) and introduces five more from the conveyor belt of Swedish crime writers.

Featured Swedish authors

MissingKarin Alvtegen

Karin Alvtegen (b.1965) is a very talented writer of psychological thrillers and also the grand-niece of the popular children's novelist Astrid Lindgren. But don't be fooled by this association, these books are not for the younger reader! I have read just two of the four translated, have still to get my hands on Shame and Betrayal which, on the  basis of the two I have read, I very much look forward to. Alvtegen's books are very well written and I highly recommend them.  

Missing 4 stars is the story of a homeless woman, Sybilla, framed for a murder she didn't commit who sets about solving the crime with the aid of a schoolboy.

Shadow 4 stars is a psychological thriller about the depths to which people will go to achieve fame and hold on to it. A somewhat dark and tragic tale, the plot is masterful and this book will surely grip you to the end. And no detective present!

Camilla Läckberg

Camilla Läckberg (b.1974) went from being a working economist to being a successful crime writer after taking a course in creative crime writing. Many of her stories are set in or around her home town of Fjällbacka and involve investigating duo writer Erica Falck and her partner detective Patrik Hedström. Of interest I think is the fact that the author borrows quite a bit from her own life experiences when writing her books. 

The Ices Princess

The Ice Princess 3 stars is the first in the Erica Falck series and starts with Erica discovering the body of a lifelong friend in her bath. Soon her path crosses with policeman Patrick Hedström and their relationship grows from there. Erica's extended family relationships also form part of the developing storyline.

Next up is The Preacher 3 stars, which opens with the discovery of the body of a recently dead young woman and the skeletal remains of two others. Suspicion falls on the Hults, a clan of misfits. The relationship between main characters Patrick and Erica is of interest too as they are now expecting their first child.

Third in the series is The Stone Cutter 3.5 stars, and here we see Patrick investigating the tragic death of a young girl soon after he and Erica become parents themselves.

The fourth in the series is The Gallows Bird 3.5 stars, and this novel features a reality TV show intertwined with a couple of accidents that turn out to be anything but. (Did not a certain policeman, with whom Läckberg had a relationship, appear in a real-life reality TV show in Sweden?)

Just recently published but not yet available in our libraries, The Hidden Child (June 2011).

You might also like to listen to or download this podcast of an interview with Camilla Läckberg where she discusses her formula for writing, and her characters. 

The Princess of BurundiKjell Eriksson

Kjell Eriksson (b.1953) is author of a series of police procedurals involving Police Inspector (and single mum) Ann Lindell of the Uppsala Police Department (north of Stockholm). Having read just two of his novels to date, I would say that they are a little slow to build.

The Princess of Burundi 3.5 stars, kicks off the series and was winner of the Swedish Crime Academy Award for Best Crime Novel in 2002.

Next up is The Cruel Stars of the Night 3.5 stars (a motiveless (?) murder and a disappearance) (no longer available, sorry! Try borrowbooks.ie).

I have yet to read the remaining translated titles, The Demon from Dakar and The Hand That Trembles.  

Åsa Larsson 

Whilst Camilla Läckberg is an economist turned crime writer, Åsa Larsson (b.1966) is a tax lawyer turned crime writer! Maybe the rewards are greater from a life in crime after all! The star of Larsson's novels, Rebecka Martinsson, is also a lawyer (surprise surprise), while the stories by and large are based in northern Sweden, which makes for an interesting change from Stockholm and the south. These three books really ought to be read in the order in which they are mentioned here. 

The Savage Altar

The Savage Altar (aka Sun Storm) 3.5 stars. In a slightly dark story, lawyer Rebecka Martinson becomes involved in the investigation into the death of a religious figure when she returns to her hometown of Kiruna. There is a strong female presence in this book, with heavily pregnant police inspector Anna-Maria Mella also involved. The males here are not, in the main, very likeable guys!

The Blood Spilt 2.5 stars. In some way bearing strong similarities to the first novel (a dead religious figure being one), the story nonetheless is sufficiently different even if it is a follow up to the first. In this story a still somewhat traumatised Rebecka returns once again to her childhood hometown and gets embroiled in the murky goings on in the community. And again police inspector Anna-Maria Mella is present. This for me was the least satisfying of her three novels that I have so far read.

The Black Path 3.5 stars. (not available in our libraries yet, sorry. But do ask for it!) This latest novel revived my interest in Åsa Larsson as an author after being slightly disappointed by The Blood Spilt. Despite struggling with her psychological problems (see first two books!), Rebecka Martinson is back to assist police inspector Anna-Maria Mella unravel the murder of a woman somehow tied in to the dealings of an international mining company and hampered by the murdered woman's most unco-operative family. A compelling enough read this I thought.

Soon to be published, Until Thy Wrath be Past (August 2011).

Liza Marklund.

Apart from being a crime writer, Liza Marklund (b.1962) is also a journalist, publisher, columnist and goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Busy person! And, no surprise, the main character in her books, Annika (named after her daughter) Bengtzon, is a journalist with a tabloid newspaper. Liza's books are probably best read in chronological order, which unfortunately is not the same order in which they were written or published, so it's easy to get it wrong, as I did! These books have proven big sellers and very popular in Sweden, but I have to say they have not made a big impression on me, the style and quality of the writing for me is not on a par with some of the other Swedish authors I have read. I know some who would disagree with me, sorry, but that is how I feel! I have yet to read Prime Time, so I promise to do so with a totally unbiased view in the hope that it might change my opinion.

Studio 69

Studio 69 2.5 stars, aka Studio Sex, aka Exposed. Set eight years before the events in The Bomber, Annita has just started a  summer job at a tabloid newspaper and her investigation into the murder of a woman takes her into the world of sex clubs and the sinister side of politics. 

Paradise 2.5 stars. Two years after the events in Studio 69, Annnika, now a sub-editor, investigates the death of a woman who had sought protection and whom she had referred to a foundation dedicated (supposedly) to the protection of women in danger.

Prime Time. Have not yet read this one.

The Bomber 2.5 stars. Editor Annika investigates a bombing in Stockholm that appears to have been other than a terrorist attack. In doing so, her own life appears at risk. And all this is putting pressure on her family life.

Red Wolf 2.5 stars. Having returned to work after a long period of sick leave, Annika investigates an old terrorist attack on an airforce base in northern Sweden, and matters quickly get out of hand when another journalist investigating the same story is killed. Meanwhile her home life and marriage bring their own pressures.

Read more about Liza Marklund from Scan Magazine.

In depth reviews of many of the books I mention can be read on either the Euro Crime or  Scandinavian Books websites.

The next and last instalment on Swedish crime writers will include, amongst other, the pairing of  Sjowall and Wahloo.

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

How about the grandaddy of

How about the grandaddy of the all: Henning Mankell and the Wallander books; great reading and good content. You could also check Peter Hoeg (danish) Miss Smylla's Feeling for Snow.

I covered Mankell (and

I covered Mankell (and Larsson) in Part One of this series. They had to be the first! I love them both, and have (some of) them on DVDs also. And I plan to do a Danish story quite soon as it happens (Hoeg, Adler-Olsen, who I just finished, plus others). So check back again and often!

Thanks for the new

Thanks for the new suggestions - plenty to keep me going over the holidays! On your advice, I finally got around to reading the first of the Wallander series by Henning Mankell  - and I'm already on book four of the series with book five lined up ready and waiting! I'll definitely be trying some of your other suggestions.

You might like to read a

You might like to read a lengthy article/interview with Liza Marklund that appeared in the Sunday Business Post on the 28th August 2011.

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