Tuesday, June 23, 2009

THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE



Yesterday I blithely eliminated authors with two International Daggers, two Nordic Glass Keys and a British CWA Gold Dagger between them from consideration for the 2009 International Dagger.
Today I will decide between books by Karin Alvtegen, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo and Johan Theorin.
Next year 2010 I have a feeling that Larsson, Nesbo and Theorin will be the main contenders again, but here goes for 2009. Feel free to tell me I am wrong, I am used to it.
Firstly any one of the four books [see links to reviews here] would be a worthy winner, but I have to be hypercritical to eliminate contenders.

Shadow by Karin Alvetegen, is a bit predictable and the basic plot is a little bit derivative. It is still a brilliant read if a bit bleak.
The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo, I don't think is quite as good as some of his other books but with Nesbo that means 9/10 as opposed to his usual 9.5/10.

I will therefore be very harsh and eliminate these two books. That leaves the Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire, with the awesome character of Lisbeth Salander, and Echoes From The Dead by Johan Theorin a superbly constructed novel, good characters, atmosphere and a final twist in the story.
I am a bit embarrassed having met Steven Murray and Don Bartlett the charming translators of the other three books, but Echoes From The Dead by Johan Theorin would be my choice.
Johan Theorin won the Nordic Glass Key and Best Swedish Crime Novel for his second book Nattfak this year, and Echoes From The Dead won the Best First Novel in 2008.

There was once a Golden Age of the English Detective Novel and surely we are now in a new Nordic Golden Age of crime fiction.
The interesting point is that where Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Freeman Wills Croft and company constructed plots that were not much more than escapist fantasy to ordinary people, the Nordic writer's plots are much closer to our everyday experience of life.

16 Comments:

OpenID maxine said...

Good post, Norman, or do I mean Solomon? I agree, it is an impossible choice. I can't fault your logic. I have just started The Redeemer so may post again on this before the judgement day if I can think of any more to say. (I don't think I'll get around to the Fred Vargas, the only one left after the Nesbo that I haven't read) in time. But from all accounts including yours, it isn't quite up to par with some of her others.
Anyway, good choice. I'd be happy if any of them win, really - and I am sure one of them will ;-)

11:02 AM  
Blogger Bernadette in Australia said...

Of the six I've only read the final two of your particular list and I don't know how I would choose between them - I rated them both a 5 out of 5 and they are both so different yet so good that I am happy not to have to make a choice.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine and I see from Karen's polls that once again I am in a small minority.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This has been a creative spicing up of a who-I-think-will-win post. Well done.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

12:34 AM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Norman nails his colours to the mast! I've nearly finished THE REDEEMER.
Currently my listing would be
ECHOES FROM THE DEAD (4.9)
ARCTIC CHILL (4.8)
THE CHALK CIRCLE MAN (4.5) and I won't be putting THE REDEEMER above ECHOES FROM THE DEAD.

I don't think I'm going to get them all read on time though. July 15 is the deadline, and I've still got 2 to go.

4:56 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Kerrie, it seems we agree, good my critical perspicacity is still working.;o)
I think Maxine rates Echoes very highly so it will be interesting to see whether the judges agree with us [the real experts ;o)].

5:08 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

So many excellent books - I am glad I won´t have to pick a winner.
Theorin and Nesbo are very high on my list, however. Stieg Larsson´s is exciting, obviously, but could have benefited from being rewritten.

1:59 PM  
Blogger "Reg" said...

Stieg Larsson's WAS rewritten.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Sorry, Reg. I thought it wasn´t - but that is probably just part of all the mythology around Stieg Larsson´s books.

10:27 AM  
Blogger "Reg" said...

Naturally I wish it hadn't been rewritten and were published in American English as first translated. Sådan går det.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Reg - please explain about the rewritten bit - not sure that I understand.

2:36 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Kerrie, I was also a bit confused :)

I have read the Danish version, and I assume it is a fairly close & loyal translation of the original. So I suppose I should have said that the book could have benefited from being edited as some parts are a bit rambling. Still enjoyed it very much, though.

Reg must be thinking of the English translations, however.

4:45 AM  
Blogger "Reg" said...

Sorry, I thought you had heard that the editing done in the UK was extensive, hence my pseudonym. I can't say any more than that at present.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

So, now I'm wondering which "version" I read.
My records show
Quercus, 2008, 533 pages
ISBN 978-1-84724-253-2
Originally published in Sweden in 2005, translated into English by Reg Keeland.

4:29 PM  
Blogger "Reg" said...

Kerrie, you read the British version. The US one was published by Knopf and has some minor differences, i.e., dumpster for skip.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Thanks Reg. very interesting

1:58 AM  

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