It is no secret that I am an admirer of the novels by Liza Marklund,a Swedish journalist, publisher, UNICEF ambassador and, last but by no means least, crime writer. The books by her that I have read have as their main character newspaper journalist Annika Bengtzon, but the author has also written another two books (not translated into English) about Maria ("Mia") Eriksson, a Swedish woman who was abused by her immigrant boyfriend and forced into hiding. These books became subject of some controversy over whether or not they are fiction, as can be seen from this Wikipedia entry about the author. Marklund has also written two other novels that are not part of a series (not yet translated into English). More information, and synopses of the books, can be found at the author's website. Euro Crime blog has recently reported the welcome news that not only is Marklund's collaboration with James Patterson due to be published in the UK in September, but also that more of her books are due to be translated into English, published by Transworld, starting with Red Wolf in October.
The Annika Bengtzon series (the character is named for the author's daughter) currently runs to eight books, of which only the first four have so far been translated into English. Annika is a young woman under considerable stress, both because of an abusive boyfriend and because she is struggling to become a reporter at the offices of a national newspaper, where she has a temporary post as a subeditor. Later, she achieves her career goal, has a stormy romance resulting in marriage and two children, and even more stress as she and her husband juggle work demands with their attempts to bring up their children as well as Annika constantly feeling that she is not "good enough" at all the wonderful crafty, home-making activities that seem to be second nature to the distaff Swedish population (if the country's crime literature is anything to go on). The "crime" in the stories usually consists of cases that Annika investigates as a journalist, but in many ways the author is more interested in issues of feminism (Annika's work situation, which is unerringly accurate in fact and emotion) and of social injustice, particularly concerning women, so the crime cases often peter out, being left to others (eg the police) to solve – quite a refreshing change from the standard explosive conclusion to many such novels.
Apart from strongly identifying with Annika (whom many readers don't like because she is quite spiky and difficult, particularly when under pressure, but then so am I!), I am fascinated by the chronological order of the books. The author wrote the Annika series in the following chronological order: The Bomber, Studio 69, Paradise (which is the best of the four in my opinion, containing more than an echo of the "Mia" story), and Prime Time. Yet in terms of the events in the novels, the chronological order of the books is: Studio 69, Paradise, Prime Time, and The Bomber (which has apparently sold more than half a million copies in Sweden). Not only is this an unusual way of writing a series, but the events of the novels dovetail, even at the level of minor details, in an unfaltering way. It is clear from reading the books that the author had everything all mapped out at the outset, as events are referred to in The Bomber which had not at that time been written, and the complex relationship dynamics between Annika and her husband, which result from events and actions in the past (again, in not yet written books).
Liza Marklund has already appeared in Crime Fiction alphabet this week, in this four-author post by Dorte of DJ's Krimiblog.
Mysteries in Paradise, home of the crime fiction alphabet. Visit this link if you would like to participate.