crime fiction

Photo of Reykjavík by Kirstín Sig used under a Creative Commons license.

Arnaldur Indridason, Jar City (Picador, 2006).
There aren’t many murders in Reykjavik, but this novel starts with a new case for inspector Erlandur, the death of an elderly man, apparently killed by an intruder in his basement apartment.  I hesitate to say much more, for fear of spoiling the plot — read the reviews linked below if you’ll take that risk — but it was terrific, and I look forward to reading more from Indridason.

Google BookSearch has a preview. Jane Jakeman (The Independent) sees elements of the sagas. Kara Kellar Bell says you learn quite a few things about Iceland reading it. But Sharon Wheeler didn’t see much of Reykjavik in it. On the other hand, Cela says Reykjavik is directly or indirectly present in almost every chapter. Becky read it before a trip to Iceland. Wendy R. loved that it rained constantly. Ali Karim said it made him cry. Jandy calls it well crafted. Steve Himmer thought the plotting and prose too conspicuous. Theodore Feit thinks Indridason is on a par with the best mystery authors. Joy wasn’t totally impressed. Alan Neale has some favorite quotes. Dove Grey Reader has spoilers. Laura Schut says Indridason has an amazing way of fitting pieces of a mystery together. DEY says much of the charm is the setting. This Iceland Review article about thrillers focuses on Indridason.  Scandanavian Review interviewed Indridason. So did Doug Johnstone, for Times Online. There’s a movie adapation, and Wendy Ide (The Independent) reviewed it (via Maxine). Finally, Michael Lewis’s article on Iceland in Vanity Fair was terrific, if barely related to the novel.

Buy it at Amazon.

Riga Lane
Photo of Riga by Desmond Kavanagh used under a Creative Commons license.

Henning Mankell, The Dogs of Riga (Vintage, 2004).
Mankell’s provincial Swedish detective, Kurt Wallender, investigates the deaths of two men washed ashore in a life raft. The case leads him to Riga, Latvia, where he finds himself embroiled in something larger. The novel is set against a backdrop of political change and instability in Latvia in 1991, when the Berlin Wall had come down and the country was struggling to escape Russia’s orbit.

Here is a biography of Mankell on his official website. Here is a page about the book on a fan site.  Google BookSearch has a preview. Blogger jborras4 has a shorter passage. Jane Jakeman (The Independent) calls it atmospheric and gripping fiction, never mind the middle-aged male anxieties. Sue Magee says the tension is palpable.  Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review for Fresh Air. Andris Straumanis at Latvians Online says that for a reader familiar with recent Latvian history, it’s fascinating to see Mankell depict the calm before the storm. Comparing it to Mankell’s more traditional police procedurals, Simon Quicke was somewhat underwhelmed. S.E. Smith says it’s dark and creepy. Payal Dhar thinks it’s compelling and suspenseful. Kate S. was utterly satisfied. Dorothy says it also offers a lot to think about. But Ken Wedding wasn’t blown away, and Norwegian blogger Moonknight was even more disappointed.  Maxine has Joe Queenan writing about the Nordic Mystery Boom, and another Maxine (or the same?) follows up at Petrona.

Buy it at Amazon.

Tattoo Art Fest
Photo by philippe leroyer used under a Creative Commons license.

Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Knopf, 2008).
Mikael Blomkvist is a disgraced financial journalist, convicted on libel charges to which he did not offer a defense. Lisbeth Salander is a tattooed and a social private investigator, a hacker and an orphan. Before long, Larsson has them both working to solve a decades-old mystery, the disappearance of a teenaged scion of a wealthy family of Swedish industrialists. The plot is ever so much more complicated, but Blomkvist and Salander are equal to the task.  Many of the locations are real, but much happens in a fictitious town on the coast of Norrland.

Here is Wikipedia’s page about Larsson, who died suddenly before the book was published. Here is the official Larsson site. Reg Keeland, the translator, has a new blog. NPR has this excerpt. Here are reviews — beware of spoilers! Joan Smith (The Times) says it deserves most of the hype. Maxine Clarke (Euro Crime) very much enjoyed it. Maureen Corrigan (Fresh Air) liked it. Jonathan Gibbs (The Independent) says it never feels like a by-the-numbers thriller. John Baker says it’s a strange novel; like me, he was unable to put it down. Neither could Pop Culture Nerd. Alex Berenson (The New York Times) thinks it ends blandly. The Complete Review calls it a very good second-rate novel; they also link to many reviews I don’t. Here are more links. Graham Beattie says, what a triumph. Rebecca thinks it defies the cliches of its genre. Sharon Wheeler sees a stunning achievement. Sue Arnold (The Guardian) says Larsson threatens to knock Henning Mankell off his throne. Peter calls it another great Swedish crime novel. Larissa Kyzer (3%) sees a critique of Sweden’s social-welfare state. Macy Halford chatted with New Yorker colleagues about the book. Barbara Fister locates some neat parallels. Myron really enjoyed it. WhereDunnit mapped locations in the book. Keith says it’s a fine one. Tom Cunliffe thought it too long. Semi Dweller says, believe the hype. Kerrie says it deserves the accolades. Pat Gray says it will keep you riveted. Material Witness writes about on-line debates about the book. Mack links to reviews he liked. Likewise, Maxine has all sorts of good links. Anuradha Sengupta says Lisbeth is the real hero. Martin Edwards sees a fascinating and innovative blend of story lines.  Marg liked the plot’s complexity. Gwen Dawson thought it was a little too long. Cate Ross wasn’t overwhelmed. Nor was John Talbott. PopinFresh loved it. S. Krishna’s expectations were surpassed. Lit*Chick has a clip of an interview with Knopf’s Sonny Mehta. Martha Woodroof reported for NPR on how it became a U.S. bestseller. And you can watch the trailers for the forthcoming movie! There are many more reviews out there — please feel free to link to good ones in the comments.

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