A few days ago I finished reading Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen [review to follow next week] and noticed one of the blurbs on the back cover, this one from the Guardian.
'Gripping storytelling. Features all the hallmarks Scandi-book fans have come to adore.'
I know publishers have totally overdone the blurbs and stickers that adorn Nordic Crime Fiction, but these books must have some features in common that are enjoyed by readers.
I listed some of hallmarks of the Martin Beck novels that could relate to the modern Scandis [Scandinavian and Nordic crime fiction novels] in this April post More Detective Fever. The stories contain:
a] Social commentary
b] Large doses of cynicism
c] Team work, and the difficulties of working in a team.
d] Dollops of humour, light and dark.
e] Characters express distrust of superiors.
f] A feeling of loneliness and despair is expressed by various characters.
g] There are superbly drawn characters in the books.
h] There is a brooding atmosphere of disaster about to happen.
With apparently 80% of the readership of crime fiction novels female, there are some new factors, since the days of Martin Beck, that have added to the popularity of 'Scandis'.
1] The Female author
Even then [1965-1975] Maj Sjowall was at least half the the creative process behind the male investigative team featured in the Martin Beck series.
'Scandis' are written by large numbers of very successful female authors, such Asa Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Helene Tursten, Mari Jungstedt, Anne Holt, Liza Marklund, Karin Fossum, Karin Alvtegen, Inger Frimansson, Yrsa Sigurdardottir and debut novelist Camilla Ceder.
2] The Female protagonist
'Scandis' frequently feature strong capable women fighting corruption and crime usually perpetrated by men. These could be lawyers, reporters and policewomen such as Rebecka Martinsson and Anna-Maria Mella [Asa Larsson], Irene Huss [Helene Tursten], Annika Bengtzon [Liza Marklund] or Thora Gudmundsdottir [Yrsa Sigurdardottir].
And many of the most successful male crime fiction authors feature female protagonists policewoman Ann Lindell [Kjell Eriksson] and victims Lisbeth Salander [Stieg Larsson] and Merete Lynggaard [Jussi Adler-Olsen].
I am not sure you can 'adore' a hallmark as the Guardian suggests, but I am pretty sure you can believe in, and adore a feisty character like Annika Bengtzon.
'Watch it,' Annika exclaimed sharply. 'You can't just detain journalists for questioning. If the police have detained or arrested a reporter working for one of Sweden's major newspapers, you are required to report that fact to his employer.'
That wasn't true, but the officer didn't know that for sure.
Prime Time: Liza Marklund