Some Scandinavian books I am looking forward to reading

As an avid follower of Karen’s Amazon lists and Euro Crime blog, I am eagerly awaiting several novels and keep checking them out on Amazon, which then obligingly keeps reminding me about them. Despite the windy weather, summer must be nearly upon us because several of these tempting books are finally about to be published. Among those that I am keenly awaiting are:

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Anna Yates and published by Harvill Secker, who currently have a very good list of translated crime fiction. This Icelandic novel is the seventh in the Erlunder series (the first two have not yet been translated but reviews of the rest, several by me, can be found at Euro Crime). Along with Vargas and Camilleri, Indridason is a favourite among the Euro Crime regular reviewers. In Outrage, the investigation is undertaken by Det. Elinborg as Erlunder is away. I hope my favourite depressive will make more than a brief appearance, though.

Misterioso by Arne Dahl, translated by Tiina Nunnally and published by Pantheon. As the blurb puts it: “The first novel in Arne Dahl’s gripping Intercrime series—widely considered to be one of Sweden’s best—Misterioso is a penetrating, dark, and absorbing introduction to this acclaimed author’s world.” Arne Dahl is the pen name of Swedish literary critic and novelist Jan Arnald.

Until Thy Wrath be Past by Asa Larsson, translated by Laurie Thompson and published by MacLehose Press. This Swedish novel is the fourth in the Rebecka Martinsson series. The first three titles, beautifully translated by Marlaine Delargy, are among my very favourite crime novels (see my Euro Crime reviews). I’ve had to wait a while for the fourth novel owing to a change of publisher, but I am sure the wait will be worth it. Two strong female protagonists (a financial lawyer and a police detective) and journeys into the dark secrets underlying “respectable” society and family lives – perfection. (The publisher has not listed the translator on the Amazon entry, to its shame.)

The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, translated by who knows?* and published by Hodder and Stoughton. Another Icelandic series, this one about witty lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir, her predilection for mysteries and her complicated but warm family and (attempted) romantic life. Reviews of the first three titles can be read at Euro Crime. *It is very remiss of the publisher not to list the translator on its website or on the book’s Amazon listing. There is a big, silly promotional sticker on the cover, but no mention there or in the bibliographic details of the translator. The first novels were translated by the late Bernard Scudder (1 and 2), Anna Yates (2) and Philip Roughton (3).

The Quarry by Johan Theorin, translated by (I guess!) Marlaine Delargy and published by Doubleday (another publisher with a black mark from me for not listing the translator). Johan Theorin is in my opinion the best Swedish crime-fiction author writing today (and perhaps the best crime author from anywhere?), he is certainly in a different class to “hyped” authors such as Stieg Larsson, “Lars Kepler” and Sissel-Jo Gazan. This book is the third in his loose series set on the island of Oland. My reviews of the previous two titles (both CWA winners) are at Euro Crime.

The Caller by Karin Fossum, translated by K E Semmel and published by Harvill Secker (the only publisher among this book collection that bothers to acknowledge the translator in online listings, though gets a black mark here for the sticker on the front cover comparing this author to Jo Nesbo – polar opposites!). This is the eighth in the Inspector Sejer series: the first has not been translated from its native Norwegian but reviews of the rest (some by me) are at Euro Crime. These novels are not “crime fiction” but rather seek to illuminate some aspect of human psychology and failing. I also highly recommend Fossum’s standalone novel, Broken, which would be a perfect introduction to this marvellous author.

This list is not comprehensive (of course!) but highlights some of the books I shall definitely be reading. Some other Scandinavian offerings that are not quite out yet I’ve already been lucky enough to read in proof – reviews of these will be appearing at Euro Crime over the next few weeks or months: The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt (translated from Swedish by Tiina Nunnally); The Dinosaur Feather by Sissal-Jo Gazan (translated from Danish by Charlotte Barslund); The Hypnotist by “Lars Kepler” (translated from Swedish by Ann Long); and Winter of the Lions by Jan Costin Wagner (translated from German by Anthea Bell; the book is set in Finland). I’ve also recently reviewed on Euro Crime some very good new titles, including the superb Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen (translated from Danish by Lisa Hartford) and The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg (translated from Swedish by Steven T. Murray).

18 thoughts on “Some Scandinavian books I am looking forward to reading

  1. Maxine – Those do look like some terrific reads! I’m looking forward to reading several of them, myself and of course, to reading your reviews. There are so many good series out there that I don’t see how you manage to keep up as well as you do with them. I admire you.

  2. Like you, I am waiting eagerly for news from Sigurdardottir & Indridason. I liked Arne Dahl´s series a lot, but it is different in some ways so let´s see what you think. Theorin´s third was a bit of a let-down for me, though. I don´t mind that he spends much time on the lives and interactions of characters, but I did not really buy the (re)actions of the main character. Psychologically, Theorin could learn a lot from Håkan Nesser´s new series which is also ´quiet crime´, but wonderful when it comes to creating credible characters.

  3. I have got most of these on order, or on my shelves courtesy of a kind friend. I am not reading your review of Mercy yet, as I am 186 pages in, but your comment “superb” makes me wonder why it was not on the ID shortlist. ;o)

  4. I’ve just discovered Swedish author, Helene Tursten’s Inspector Irene Huss series. Do you know them?

  5. Maxine, –And later on in the year- we can also look forward to
    three new Scandinavian writers–being published in English.
    1. 15/8 Sara Blaedel -Call me Princess.
    2. 29/9 Kristina Ohlsson –Unwanted (translated by Sarah Death.)
    Ohlsson currently has 2 novels in the Swedish best-sellers top ten.
    3. 27/10 Mons Kallentoft–Midwinter Sacrifice.

    As regards Annie’s comment —Tursten’s novels are first class-but
    for reasons beyond me –have not been published in UK –one has to
    get them via USA.

  6. Simon, thank you for these gems, I shall watch out for them!

    Karen -I guessed as much (Roughton) but it is too bad that some publishers don’t bother to note the translator even on their own websites!

    Annie – I endorse what Simon writes about Tursten, I think she is fabulous and have reviewed the US editions of the three so far translated at Euro Crime. (I bought the US Soho Press editions via Amazon.) Via Karen, there is a new one coming out later this year, I guess also a US translation.

    Norman, I believe that Mercy may not have been submitted.

  7. Dorte , I like Nesser but don’t think he is better at creating credible characters than Theorin . His main detective is a great character (though I am sure exaggerated!), but the others, not so much. Whereas many of Theorin’s characters, notably Geldof and Julia in the first book and the young couple in the second, are very real.

  8. Maxine if Mercy was not submitted, and we accept your judgement of it as superb, the CWA International Dagger is devalued.
    Why pay a fee to submit any book for this award if as an alternative you can just put a sticker on the cover stating “If you liked Hamlet/The Killing/ Sarah Lund’s jumper/Stieg Larsson/Jo Nesbo or Danish pastries you will like this” to boost sales?

  9. Thanks for this update. I also cannot wait for Indridasson’s new translated book, which I will buy from the infamous Book Depository so I read it within this century. His books also have my favorite ruminating, introspective detective (although it’s a toss-up with Martin Beck, who is a bit less depressed).
    I like Asa Larsson, although I think her endings are very over-the-top thriller craziness with abuse of the poor main character attorney, which made me wait awhile for her third book. And that one turns into such extreme violence, and near civil war, that I was dismayed, and will read her next book with worry about the ending as I go.
    I’m still waiting for Sigurdadottir’s Ashes to Dust from the library (which has one copy), which I am eager to read, and will look forward to the book you list also.
    Mari Jungstedt, I will find a few of her books at the library. Cannot find Dinosaur Feather anywhere here, but will keep looking; this is on my TBR list.
    Jan Costin Wagner I will try. And also Petrona has recommended books by K.O. Dahl, right? What is best to start with? (My library has Dahl’s books.)
    Anyway, this is just whetting my appetite for more Nordic noir, yet the exasperation that many are not in my library nor even available for ages from Amazon. Have to check the Book Depository regularly, but budgetary concerns reign.

  10. kathy, the first translated K O Dahl is The Fourth Man which I did not enjoy so much. The other two (in reading order) are The Last Fix and The Man in the Window, both of which I enjoyed a lot. Classic police procedurals.
    I recall some of the violent situations in Asa Larsson but never felt she was “laying it on with a trowel” as other authors can do.

    Norman – Karen says it only costs about £15 to submit. She thinks publishers are not generally aware, though she does encourage them! I did drop a hint to the Mercy publicist that they should submit the next one, next year 😉 (I don’t think that Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder was submitted also, for me, that would have made this shortlist.)

  11. £15.00!
    I thought it would be £1,500.00 at least, as that might be a reason not to submit. We know most of the translators have heard of this award. Author, agent, publisher, translator….. Obviously someone has made a decision not to submit, or someone has made a mistake.
    This reminds me of the amateurish approach to last year’s Ellis Peters Award, when the time between the announcement of the shortlist and the winner was not long enough to allow interested bloggers to read the books. From memory Karen was offered all the books about ten days before the prize was awarded to encourage some discussion on line.

  12. PS Mind you, if the prize were a few more £££££££££££, then maybe the incentive to submit would be higher 😉

  13. I am very interested in reading The Dinosaur Feather, and sharing it with a friend who is an archaelogy student. However, it’s not available at the Book Depository, nor does Amazon US even list it.
    If you get wind of anywhere the book can be found in English, which I could order to the States, please let me know on your blog or via email. Would appreciate that.

  14. Kathy, DF is published in the UK by Quercus and is only out this week (I was sent an advance proof) so this may be why you could not find it. It is available now on Amazon UK so it might be worth checking out the BDepository again in a few days. It was originally published in Denmark in 2008.

  15. Thank you. I did find it at Abe Books online, but it’s costly. I’ll check in at the BD, while I also look for Mercy, and several books from Oz, which BD did not have on my last check.

  16. I thought the Arnaldur Indridason’s book is interesting. I have Silence of the Grave with me and who knows when I read it I may be hooked on the Erlunder series! Enjoy your Scandinavian read Petronas.

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