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Archive for the ‘Swedish crime’ Tag

An Unlikely Murderesss   Leave a comment

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Maud is the 88-year-old Elderly Lady up to No Good in Swedish writer Helene Tursten’s terse collection of short stories.

Most of what Maud is up to is murder. She’s an unlikely bad guy (gal), and not just because she’s a woman, It happens that murder is the way she solves a lot of problems; they are often not even her own issues.

Alone and living rent-free in a Gothenburg apartment, Maud’s housing situation is challenged when a demanding artist moves into a smaller apartment. Maud grew up in the spacious living area she still inhabits. A clause in her late father’s will stated that she and her older sister would be allowed to remain until their deaths. Her sister has been dead for 40 years and Maud has no intention of relinquishing her apartment anytime soon.

When not busy plotting how to rid herself from the artist’s attention, she enjoys traveling. Although each of the five stories is a stand-alone narrative, all are tied to Maud’s apartment and travels. The latter often provides an alibi.

Tursten’s writing is witty . The main character takes advantage of ageism and misperceptions to get away with, literally, murder. Even though Maud is not a sympathetic character her actions are not completely unjustified. Extreme certainly, but often warranted.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good
Four Bookmarks
Soho Press, 2018
171 pages

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The Girl in the Crime Series Lives!   2 comments

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When author Stieg Larsson died 11 years ago, it appeared to be the death knell for the Millennium Series featuring Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist and heroic bad girl Lisbeth Salander. Thanks to David Lagercrantz, the demise of the fictional characters was greatly exaggerated.

Lagercrantz has written the fourth installment, The Girl in the Spider’s Web — doing so in a voice and style remarkably similar to Larsson’s. This is a good thing.

The two protagonists have moved on with their lives;  Blomkvist still writes for Millennium magazine and Salander continues to hack computers. They have not stayed in touch with one another. Then, Blomkvist receives a call in the middle of the night from a source who has been in contact with a hacker whose description can only fit Salander. This thinnest of threads ultimately expands to hold the narrative together. Blomkvist’s source and Salander’s work for him are linked to international cyber-spying, old family vendettas and the pair’s respect and faith in one another.

Many characters introduced by Larsson have new-found life thanks to Lagercrantz. He follows a similar pattern of simultaneous stories occurring within a single chapter until they ultimately come together.

Blomkvist’s source is murdered, the NSA is hacked and a child autistic savant not only has the missing piece to the puzzle that brings these events together, but he brings out an unlikely, albeit extremely slight, maternal side in Salander.

There’s intrigue, righting wrongs and descriptions of Stockholm that make it seem as if Lagercrantz is channeling Larsson.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Four Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
400 pages

Cold Crime   Leave a comment

 

The Ice Princess (Fjällbacka Series #1)

Camilla Lackberg’s The Ice Princess is my recent discovery in Scandinavian crime genre. She’s touted as Sweden’s version of Agatha Christie. While I might not go that far, I did enjoy the mystery set in Fjallbacka, a Swedish fishing village turned tourist community north of Goteborg.

It’s no surprise that within the first few pages a body, an apparent suicide, is discovered. The twists come in the form of small town connections. Erica, the second (living) person on the scene is a childhood friend of the victim, Alex. The two had lost touch with one another long ago, but Erica has fond memories of their friendship.

Erica, an author of biographies, is asked by Alex’s parents to write what amounts to an expanded obituary. They are convinced Alex did not kill herself. The more Erica learns of her estranged friend, the less likely it seems that Alex would have taken her own life.

Plenty of characters populate Lackborg’s novel, and surprisingly few are extraneous. Besides Erica, a major player is Patrik, a local police officer. They, too, had known each other as kids. As a boy, Patrik was enthralled by Erica. Alex’s death brings them together in more ways than one.

Lackberg doesn’t rely on the mystery; she includes romance, domestic violence and long-held secrets. The result is an engaging story that moves at a comfortable pace. It’s not necessarily a rapid-page turner, but is likely to keep you reading later at night than you might like.

The Ice Princess
Four Bookmarks
Pegasus Books, 2010
393 pages