During the Spring I have read a relatively large number of Scandinavian crime fiction books in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. I have focused on “new” writers – writers who have not so far been translated into English.
Reading these new authors has been extremely interesting and rewarding. In addition to the writers so far translated into English – many of whom are very well known internationally – the Scandinavian countries have a number of outstanding crime fiction writers that probably are good enough to make it internationally. Many of them are selling very well in Scandinavia. It seems many readers have already heard about Swedish Lars Kepler’s The Hypnotist and Jens Lapidus’ Easy Money and Never Fuck Up, even though they have not yet been published in English. But there are many more interesting writers and so many that are excellent!
The Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen, who writes about the exceptional and strange Department Q in the Danish Police, made a deep impression on me. He has published three books in this series – Kvinden i buret (The Woman in The Cage – title translations are mine and probably not very good), Fasandræberne (Pheasant killers) and Flaskepost fra P (Letter in a Bottle from P). They all feature the odd and somewhat lazy Inspector Carl Mørck, and have excellent plots, interesting characters, dialogues and intrigues, and fast-paced action. I have so far read two of his books, and they are both almost too suspenseful and funny as well.
Danish female writers Kaaberbøl & Friis has written an outstanding crime fiction novel entitled Drengen i kufferten (The Boy in the Suitcase), where somebody is asked to pick up a suitcase and finds a neatly folded, almost dead little boy. A great mystery by two interesting writers!
The Swedish female writers Kristina Ohlsson and Camilla Ceder have impressed me a lot as well. Ohlsson’s Askungar (Cinderellas) features detective Axel Recht and his special unit. It is very smartly plotted and excellently written, and has been very well received in Sweden and Norway. Her second book Tusenskönor will be published in Sweden in August. Camilla Ceder’s (b. 1976) debut novel will soon be published in the UK. Her book, Frozen Moments(Fruset ögonblick), a police procedural featuring Inspector Christian Tell, has been a huge seller in Sweden and is very good.
Among the newer Norwegian writers, I was very, very impressed by singer Øystein Wiig’s Dødelig applaus (Deadly Applause), a thriller from the international opera world that was full of energy from page one to the last page, and with a very imaginative plot as well. The plot and execution is every bit as good as Henning Mankell.
Thomas Enger, another Norwegian writer who just published his first book Skin-dead (English title “Burned”) (Skinndød), featuring the online newspaper reporter Henning Juul, was also quite impressive. The Norwegian publisher Gyldendal, according to rumors, signed him up for six books after having reviewed the manuscript of his debut book. Enger is an excellent writer, very polished, and very good at building suspense.
Apart from Camilla Ceder, I don’t know whether any of these writers will be published in England or the US. What I do know is that all of them deserve to be. And some of them I feel pretty confident will be. I also think a couple of the books I have mentioned may become huge bestsellers if the marketing is good. I am very excited!