The Guardian recently published a nice article about Swedish crime fiction, where they asked the Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg – the author of six crime books – to pick her 10 favorite Swedish crime books. Her picks were:
1. The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser
Nesser sets his stories in a fictional country that’s not quite Sweden, but the people in them are very, very real. He used to be a school teacher before becoming a writer, and it shows in the meticulous way he handles his texts. But yet his writing never feels cold or static – there’s heart in everything he writes and you find yourself understanding and sympathising with some real villains.
2. Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman
Loosely based on a true story, this is dark, sinister and wonderfully written. It’s been a hugely popular book for many years in Sweden, with an appeal that extends to readers who don’t usually touch thrillers. A real classic.
3. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
Karin Alvtegen is the master at psychological suspense, and her plots unfold themselves naturally from the character studies. No one does this better than Alvtegen, and her homeless murder suspect, Sybilla, is one of crime fiction’s most memorable characters.
4. Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson
Northern Sweden holds a special kind of magic. It’s cold, lonely, and the people are tough and silent, or so the stereotype says. This is Åsa Larsson’s home turf and I find as much joy in reading her closely observed descriptions of the environment, as in following her intriguing plots. And I love the fact that the heroine in her books is a tax attorney.
5. The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell
Inspector Wallander has become a household name along with the little town of Ystad where he pursues most of his cases. But Mankell’s range is far from parochial. Drawing on his own experience living both in Sweden and in Africa, this tale of a serial killer takes us around Congo as well as Ystad.
6. Unseen by Mari Jungstedt
Emma and Johan, the intriguing couple caught up in this murderous plot, are characters to really fall in love with, and combined with the picturesque environment of Gotland, and a great plot, you’ve got a book to cherish. Mari is also not only a colleague but a close friend of mine, and we love talking about murder methods, forensics and criminal psychology over dinner.
7. Shame by Karin Alvtegen
Another winner from Alvtegen, this book really touched me. She often has a theme based on human nature and shortcomings in her books – and this book is a searing portrait of someone bearing the shame of being unloved.
8. Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
Johan is a relative newcomer to crime fiction, but has already really carved out his own niche, which blends the murder mystery with the ghost story. It’s so spooky, I could never read this one at night!
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Fiction like nothing else, Larsson’s books offer the unusual experience of serious, character-driven writing that also provides helter skelter action. Buckle up before you start reading!
10. Midvinterblod by Mons Kallentoft (not yet translated)
Mons came to crime fiction relatively late, after three other books including Food Noir, a collection of groundbreaking essays on food and travel. As well as a terrific plot, this book also has one of the best-realised female heroines I’ve read by a male writer. It’s not yet translated into English, but it really should be.
An interesting list – Camilla Läckberg knows this literature extremely well!