My Nordic reading continues for both The Petrona Award and for Granite Noir where I’ll be interviewing three Scandi authors: Kristina Ohlsson, Kati Hiekkapelto and Gunnar Staalesen.
Chameleon People is the fourth book in the series featuring detective Kolbjorn ‘K2’ Kristiansen and his trusted advisor Patricia. As usual Lahlum mixes Golden Age writing style and plot structure with political intrigue, in this case Norway’s 1972 vote on whether to join the EEC. It’s a substantial book and I enjoyed the fact that K2 has to investigate the case largely by himself due to Patricia’s antipathy towards his girlfriend, Miriam, and her own love life. Lahlum’s style is distinctive and I suspect you’re either a fan of this writer or you’re not. I always look forward to each new novel. The translation is by Kari Dickson.
Kati Heikkapelto writes books of a consistently high quality and The Exiled is no exception. Her protagonist, Anna Fekete, has returned to the Serbian village of her birth for a holiday but, after her bag is snatched and the perpetrator found drowned, she is dragged into an investigation that throws up questions about her own father’s death decades earlier. Probably Hiekkapelto’s best book to date, The Exiled looks with insight and compassion at the lot of displaced people migrating through Europe and depressingly familiar attitudes to Roma. The translation is by David Hackston.
Kristina Ohlsson is a security police analyst in Sweden and her books clearly reflect her in-depth knowledge of criminal investigations. Unwanted was her first book, published in English translation in 2011. A child is abducted on the Stockholm underground and initially the girl’s family comes under suspicion. In the finest tradition of Swedish crime fiction, the case is solved through meticulous team work, in this case by Investigative Analyst Fredrik Bergman and detectives Peder Rydh and Alex Recht. The subject matter makes it a shocking read which is balanced by the sobriety of police investigation. The translation is by Sarah Death.
I’m in the middle of two other Scandi books. The Midwife by Katja Kettu (on my kindle) and Who Watcheth by Helen Tursten. Reviews of these and more Nordic Noir coming soon…
I’ve been on a big reading binge recently mainly due to long distance travel to Bouchercon, the US crime fiction convention. I’m going to do a series of round-ups of the next week or so as I have read some excellent books that I want to share with you.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m one of the judges for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime fiction. It’s usually around this time of year that I start to increase my Nordic Noir consumption to make sure I get my reading done in time for the judging in March.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s The Undesired is a standalone novel that looks at the historic abuse in a juvenile detention centre. A single father, Odinn is in charge of the investigation following the unexplained death of a colleague. He finds a disturbing link to an accident that killed his former wife and is forced to look behind the official files to discover the reason for the children’s deaths. Yrsa is a master of ramping up the tension in her books and here is no exception. I particularly liked the claustrophobic nature of the setting and the gradual revealing of the horror at the heart of the killings.
Stallo by Stefan Spjut is a fantastical tale that chronicles the abduction of children my mysterious creatures. Susso runs a website dedicated to sightings of these beings and when she receives news of a creature that has been spotted outside an old woman’s house she installs a camera to see if she can finally confirm their existence. The book is a meaty tale that will delight fans of writers such as Justin Cronin. It’s a mixture of crime and fantasy and I thought the translation to be excellent.
Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Hummingbird was shortlisted for last year’s Petrona Award. Her follow-up The Defenceless is also a powerful read tackling illegal immigration and the role of gang members in exacerbating the desperation of migrant workers. Hiekkapelto is unflinching in her chilling descriptions and, once more, it is her police investigator protagonist, Anna Fekete, who dominates the narrative.
Thanks to Hodder, Faber and Orenda Books for my review copies.