Today we’re announcing the outstanding crime novels from Norway, Iceland and Denmark which have been shortlisted for the 2019 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.
I was delighted to be the judge on the award in what will be my final year. The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 11 May during the annual international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, held in Bristol on 9-12 May 2019. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2020.
The shortlisted books are:
THE ICE SWIMMER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
THE WHISPERER by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
THE DARKNESS by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland)
RESIN by Ane Riel, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark)
BIG SISTER by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
Thanks to Crimefest for their generosity and to our sponsor David Hicks. The judges comments on all the books can be found on the Petrona Award website.
Have you read any of these books and do you have a view on who should be the winner? I’d love to hear from you!
Reading continues apace for The Petrona Award which we’ll be awarding at Crimefest in May next year. The event in Bristol is one of my favourite crime fiction conferences and I always look forward to it. I see that they have a great Nordic line-up of authors and I’m particularly looking forward to meeting K O Dahl.
I’ve also booked for next years Bouchercon in the Toronto which is very exciting. I’ve been to Canada once before. It’s a beautiful country and I’ve long wanted to visit Toronto. So I’ll be combining crime fiction and sightseeing.
Leif G W Persson won the Petrona Award in 2014 for Linda, As In The Linda Murder. His books are of consistently high quality and are complemented by Neil Smith’s excellent translations. The Dying Detective is possible my favourite to date. Retired Chief of the National Crime Police, Lars Martin Johansson suffers a stroke. While he is in hospital, his consultant confides that she believes her clergyman father may have been given a clue to the identity of a young girl’s murderer. Lars, from his bedside, rounds up former colleagues and family members to follow the trail of the cold case as his health deteriorates. Superbly plotted it has Persson’s characteristic grasp of the frailties of human nature. I don’t think there’s a writer like him.
I’ve read a couple of books by Camilla Grebe which she wrote with her sister Asa Traff. The Ice Beneath Her is the first book as a solo author and is an interesting psychological thriller. Sales assistant Emma Bohman has been abruptly dropped by her wealthy lover, the boos of a famous clothing store. When a woman is found beheaded in his house, police search for the missing tycoon while the narrative rewinds two months and shows Emma’s increasing conviction that she is under threat. The split narrative, in terms of both voice and timeline works well and the readers is pulled in various directions before the final reveal. The translation was by Elizabeth Clark Wessel.
Liza Marklund’s series featuring journalist Annika Bengtzon appears to come to an end with The Final Word. For me, it’s the end of an era; Marklund was one of the early Scandinavian writer’s I read and I’ve particularly loved the the drama of Annika’s private life. The Final Word is, like her other books, a good balance of investigation and personal story although there is a more wistful tone to the narrative. I hope it’s not the end for Annika as she’s one of my favourite Scandi characters. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. The translation was by Neil Smith.