Saturday, July 03, 2010


Update: This blog is now dormant but you can read all the old posts and more new material at Crime Scraps Review

I complained recently about marketing stickers that were designed to cash in on the "Stieg Larsson phenomena".

But the main stream media and publishers won't let a good marketing ploy go without exploiting it to the full.
I can see it will not be long before we will have "Hamlet by William Shakespeare, people get murdered, it is set somewhere in Scandinavia, so if you liked Stieg Larsson you will enjoy this."

Or "Un Ballo in Maschera, by some Italian guy, but there is Swedish version about King Gustav, the something or other, so if you liked Stieg Larsson, and don't mind a bit of music you will love this".

My current rant was inspired by receiving Hakan Nesser's latest Van Veeteren book to be translated into English by Laurie Thompson, The Inspector and Silence.
On the front cover is the blurb:

'[Nesser] is being favourably compared with Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson.'
Sunday Times

Why the brackets? Does Hakan Nesser need to be compared with anyone?
Would it not been more sensible to have marketed him on the cover as the writer who has won the Basta Svenska Kriminalroman three times, and been nominated for this prize a further seven times. You have to read the back flap and back cover to find out that he is not some new kid on the block.

Hakan Nesser's detective Van Veeteren has, like his creator, a sense of humour as do his team, something you don't find much of in Stieg Larsson, or Henning Mankell.
I would compare Hakan Nesser's style much more with Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo' Martin Beck series, but Larsson and Mankell are the current flavour of the month so up goes a sticker, or a blurb.
I suppose publishers and booksellers have to sell books, and if it encourages those people who have only heard of two Swedish crime fiction writers, to try the excellent Van Veeterens then perhaps I can put up with the marketing.

The prizes:

Basta Svenska Debut:
Hakan Nesser 1993

Stieg Larsson 2006
Henning Mankell 1991, 1995
Hakan Nesser 1994, 1996, 2007

Henning Mankell 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
Hakan Nesser 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 200, 2001, 2009

Nordic Glass Key:
Stieg Larsson 2006, 2008
Henning Mankell 1992
Hakan Nesser 2000

CWA Gold Dagger:
Henning Mankell 2001


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Well-put! Very well-put! I think publishers really do frequently use marketing ploys like this to cash in whichever authors are being "hyped."

11:12 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Well said, Norman. A lot of these articles are being written by people who don't know crime fiction, or whose idea of it is based on Patterson and Cornwell, poor them. (Or Thomas Harris I suppose - focus on the gruesome/torture aspects). Nesser is playing with the genre in his 10-book series, in each one he takes a typical crime fiction topic and pushes it to its bleakest extreme. Not anything like Stieg Larsson.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Well said, Norm.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

The interesting thing about Nesser is that he seems to have taken longer to break into the translated into English market. Certainly visibility Down Under is a recent phenomenon

3:06 PM  
Blogger NancyO said...

I have to agree with your comment, and I was almost going to make a post along similar lines today, after having read on someone's blog something like "Lisbeth Salander is the poster girl for Scandinavian crime fiction." In one sense, the success of the Millenium trilogy is good for spotlighting other Scandinavian writers, but there's also a drawback. A lot of people think that Larsson's works are representative of Scandinavian crime fiction, and tend to give bad reviews to really good books by other authors because a) there are no central Lisbeth Salander-type characters or b) there's no rock-em sock-em action. "Compared favorably" implies that the Stieg Larsson books are the be-all and end-all of Scandinavian crime fiction, and that's just not true. I'd definitely take VV over Lisbeth Salander any day.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I used to roll my eyes at far-fetched invocations of Raymond Chandler on book covers. Now I know what has replaced them.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

1:04 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I love this Hamlet promotional blurb. I have to email it to someone who will also heartily laugh.

The thing is about Stieg Larsson: No one writes like he does. There are great Scandinavian writers but they write differently than Larsson and from each other.

The comparisons are so annoying.

I saw an article which implied that Camilla Lackberg is the next Stieg Larsson. That one I will never understand; there is no basis for that.

The publishing/bookseller world must find another Larsson.

Or there is always Shakespeare to fall back on.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Since I wrote this post I found Johan Theorin and incredibly Jo Nesbo both being marketed as the next Stieg Larsson!

I would not be surprised if that Hamlet blurb does actually gets used in the future. ;O)

4:21 AM  

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