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- 5 Books Making News This Week: Collections, Translation, and Noir
There is on average around one and a half murders here a year, and these are rarely the result of intricate scheming.
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The general consensus as late as the s was that as far as literature was concerned, this was one trend that would pass us by. No one would buy the idea. Then the s rolled around and the murder rate started increasing exponentially in literature if not, thankfully, in real life. The trend shows no sign of abating. During the bad old boom years, when everyone thought they were going to get miraculously rich and soon, people turned to tales of murder for recreation, perhaps to get away from the all-pervasive optimism or even in recognition that there was a dark underbelly to a seemingly perfect society that was betting everything on the banks.
Then the crash came, but people still stuck to their crime writers, now because they mirrored a morally bankrupt society infested with corruption.
Of course, no island is an island, not even Iceland. Icelandic crime partly rides on the coattails of its Scandinavian cousins. Once you have read the Swedes and Norwegians, watched the excellent Danish series such as Forbrydelsen and Broen, something set in Iceland is a logical next step for those wanting more. But why is Nordic crime fiction so popular?
True, most of it is pretty well constructed, but why would the Scandinavians, considered as living in some of the safest countries in the world, excel at this sport rather than continentals with vastly more experience of murder? Perhaps the answer is to be found in the question. Precisely because the Nordic countries are seen as role models by many; safe, egalitarian, roughly gender-equal and physically healthy, the idea of something dark underneath becomes titillating. One famous English writer, after having detailed the murderous reigns of Richard III and Macbeth of Scotland and the brutal Wars of the Roses, still insisted there was something rotten in the state of Denmark.
Murder in heaven is intriguing; murder in hell is just another day. But how long can it all last? But all things must pass and one day a generational shift must surely come. The Swede Henning Mankell, creator of Kurt Wallander, moved on to that great police station in the sky three years ago and the most popular Nordic crime writer of them all, Stieg Larsson, died over a decade ago.
Then again, death never slowed him down.
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His 80 million selling Millennium trilogy was published posthumously and two more books in the series have come out in the past three years. No, this was not written with the aid of a Ouija board, but by one David Lagercrantz, selected by the publisher to carry the mantle. Nordic noir has always prided itself on realism, despite its unreal murder rate. Lagercrantz dispenses with reality altogether, quoting comic book characters instead and introducing the inevitable evil twin sister, a ploy originally conceived by Stieg himself.
So, where can Nordic Noir go from there? Last but not least, bursting with the wonderful Bonton fragrance, is the shower gel!
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5 Books Making News This Week: Collections, Translation, and Noir
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