The third reading challenge I have completed this year (or ever for that matter) is the brainchild of the delightful Amy from The Black Sheep Dances who proposed that participants read 6 books from the region that bought us Lego, Ikea and Carlsburg. I signed up immediately, hoping to expand my Scandinavian reading from its heavy concentration on Sweden which started when I discovered the other Larsson (Asa) a couple of years ago.
Dorte, who would know because she actually is Scandinavian, says that officially Scandinavia is only Denmark, Norway and Sweden but for the purposes of this challenge we were allowed to include Finland and Iceland too. Hopefully this has not caused any embarrassing international incidents or UN resolutions. I decided to read a book from each country plus an extra from somewhere. Of course me being me all the books were crime fiction.
From this admittedly small sampling of books I feel confident in busting a couple of myths:
- There is no ‘next Stieg Larsson’. There are a swag of great writers in the region but they have writing styles, personalities and storytelling abilities all of their very own and don’t need to be marketed as the next anyone.
- Scandinavians, even the ones in crime fiction, are not all dour and/or at the mercy of seasonal affective disorder. They can be sarcastic and tell jokes like the rest of us. Who knew?
Here is a quick reminder of the books I chose in the order I read them
- Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason (Iceland) – a sad, thoughtful, beautiful story that for me was all about yearning.
- The Serbian Dane by Leif Davidsen (Denmark) – a suspense-filled tale about a planned crime and those who would thwart it that had me feeling sorry for an assassin.
- The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser (Sweden) – an upside-down procedural featuring a confident and very funny investigator
- The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (Sweden) – a chilling mix of whodunnit and ghost story in the most atmospheric of remote island settings
- Snow Angels by James Thompson (Finland) – an absorbing look at the ups and downs of living in a small community set against the backdrop of a harrowing investigation
- The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø (Norway) – a complex tale about choosing sides in a war and living with the consequences which introduced me to Inspector Harry Hole, a character who made me swoon
Though Hypothermia squeaks into top spot as my favourite of the bunch the others all have elements to recommend them and there isn’t a single dud in the group. About the only downside to the challenge is that it’s added a swag more titles to my TBR both now and into the future. Thanks Amy 🙂