The new face of international crime.

Author:Smith, Patrick

"Ever since the '70s, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo were the godfathers of Scandinavian crime," Jo Nesb[oslash], the Norwegian literary darling of the new millennium, recalls. "They broke the crime novel in Scandinavia from the kiosks and into the serious bookstores." Nearly a decade after the legendary appearance of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, we still haven't reached peak crime.

The clamor for crime novels like the ones coming out of Scandinavia[mdash]stylish, atmospheric, violent stories and characters running toward the noir end of the spectrum [mdash] was long ago raised in the rest of Europe and in every other continent on the planet, even Antarctica, surprisingly, which is the setting for a growing number of crime books, including Robert Masello's Blood and Ice (2009) and Greg Rucka's graphic novel Whiteout (1998). Many of those books written in the last decade are just now being translated into English, with London's Bitter Lemon Press and New York's Soho Press publishing a growing list of international crime novels.

Crime fiction has never been more sophisticated or more globally aware, and all signs point to the continued popularity of books that speak to us[mdash]intelligently and with an eye toward the complexities of an ever-changing world-through the lens of our darker nature.

We've provided a few selections below that represent the new crop of the best international crime fiction.

SCANDINAVIA

The Absent One (2013)

A Department Q Novel

By Jussi Adler-Olsen (Denmark)

Carl M[oslash]rck, head of Copenhagen's Department Q, returns from holiday to find an odd file on his desk detailing the murder of a brother and a sister a decade before. The putative killer was convicted and sentenced, but M[oslash]rck's investigation leads him to a group of school chums [mdash] now a decade older and pursuing their various life paths[mdash]who lead double lives that, if exposed, would ruin financially successful careers. Kimmie, one of the less fortunate of the group who haunts the streets of Copenhagen, holds the key to the case, and M[oslash]rck isn't the only one interested in finding her before she can exact vengeance on the others.

Adler-Olsen's scope for this series is ambitious[mdash]like Stieg Larsson, he has 10 installments planned for Department Q[mdash]and the first two efforts predict success. Even if reviewers compare Adler-Olsen with Larsson, the Department Q novels and Carl M[oslash]rck stand quite well on their own. Adler-Olsen understands the culture of Scandinavian crime fiction that has made it so popular; at the same time, he avoids writing derivative novels.

"The story is brutal and black, filled with riveting descriptions and depravity, the portrayals vivid. A worthy successor to a well-received first installment, setting the stage for the third." SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE, 1/23/13

See also The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011), A Conspiracy of Faith (2013).

1222 (2012)

By Anne Holt (Norway)

Mar/Apr 2012

A train crash in a remote corner of Norway leaves the passengers stuck in an old hotel near Finse[mdash]the title refers to its location, 1,222 meters above sea level [mdash] to wait out the worst storm in living memory. Hanne Wilhelmsen, a retired police inspector left wheelchair bound after a gunfight, is injured when a ski pole impales her thigh. Despite needing the aid of her fellow passengers, the prickly and antisocial Hanne, a lesbian who lives with her Muslim lover, does all she can to avoid conversing with the 269 other survivors. But when a clergyman is found murdered, Hanne needs help to unmask a killer dead set on taking out the passengers one by one.

Holt, a former minister of justice, is one of Norway's most popular crime writers. Although eighth in the series, 1222 was the first Hanne Wilhelmsen mystery to be translated into English and published in the United States.

"It's easy to see why Anne Holt ... is rapturously received in the rest of Europe. ... Holt's vivid depiction of claustrophobia, petty squabbles and mob hysteria is just as convincing as her evocation of the storm outside." LAURA WILSON, GUARDIAN (UK), 11/26/10

SEE ALSO Blessed Are Those Who Thirst (2012), Blind Goddess (2012), Death of the Demon (2013).

Further Reading

Each publication date refers to the date of the English translation.

Room No. 10 (Inspector Winter, # 7) (2013) |[Aring]KE EDWARDSON (SWEDEN)

IN THE DARKNESS: AN INSPECTOR SEJER NOVEL (2012) | KARIN FOSSUM (NORWAY)

THE DINOSAUR FEATHER (2013) | S. J. GAZAN (DENMARK)

BLACK SKIES: AN INSPECTOR ERLENDUR NOVEL (2013) | ARNALDUR INDRIDASON (ICELAND)

THE FIRE WITNES (2013) | LARS KEPLER (SWEDEN)

MY FIRST MURDER: A MARIA KALIO THRILER (2012) | LEENA LEHTOLAINEN (FINLAND)

THE STRANGER: FJ[Auml]LLBACKA, BOOK 4 (2013)| CAMILLA L[Auml]CKBERG (SWEDEN)

A TREACHERO US PARA DISE (2013) | HENNING MANKELL (SWEDEN)

POLICE: A HARY HOLE NOVEL (2013) | JO NESB[Oslash] (NORWAY)

HELSINKI BLOO D: AN INSPECTOR VAARA NOVEL, BOOK 4 (2013) | JAMES THOMPSON (UNITED STATES/FINLAND)

CONTINENTAL EUROPE

The Square of Revenge (2013)

An Inspector Van In Novel

By Pieter Aspe (Belgium)

Police called to a seemingly straightforward [mdash] if...

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