Easter is in the air and if you follow any book-related Scandinavian traditions, then crime at Easter or påskekrim, the one firmly established in Norway, is definitely for you. Påskekrim is the time to enjoy all types of crime fiction, both on screens and on pages of very popular novels. Last year I recommended Smoke Screen by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. Now I will share my reading plans though I doubt I will mange to complete my current TBR list within the next days.
Let me take you to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland and England.
Håkan Nesser’s The Lonely Ones, translated by Sarah Death, is the fourth novel of the quintet featuring Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti (Pan Macmillan, Mantle, October 2021). In 1969 six young people arrive in Uppsala, Sweden. Different circumstances push the three young couples together and, over the course of a few years, they become friends. But a summer trip through Eastern Europe changes everything forever, and when their time at Uppsala University is over it also signals the end of something else. Years later, a lecturer at Lund University is found dead at the bottom of a cliff in the woods close to Kymlinge. And chillingly, it is the very same spot where one of the Uppsala students died thirty-five years before. Detective Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti takes on this ominous case of history repeating itself, and is forced to confront an increasingly grave reality. I love Nesser’s calm methodical style, and my review of The Root of Evil, second novel of the series, was published on Crime Review pages.
Max Seeck’s The Ice Coven in Kristian London‘s translation (Welbeck, September 2021) follows The Witch Hunter and is the second instalment in the Detective Jessica Niemi series. In this thriller Jessica faces the darkest case of her career. A young woman’s corpse washes up on a near-frozen beach, and then, two famous Instagram influencers go missing. All three have ties to a cult, famous for their cruel and violent worship. But before Jessica can save the girls, an old enemy emerges and threatens to destroy her. Soon, she is hunting for much more than just the truth.
Viveca Sten’s In Bad Company, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Amazon Crossing, January 2021) is the ninth novel of escalating suspense of the Sandhamn Murders series. Building a case against Andreis Kovač is a risky strategy for prosecutor Nora Linde. A violent key player in Stockholm’s drug trade and untouchable when it comes to financial crimes, he has the best defense money can buy. To topple Andreis’s empire, Nora’s working a different angle as her critical witness is Andreis’s wife Mina who has suffered her husband’s rage too long. Still carrying the traumas of the Bosnian War, Andreis can be triggered like an explosive, and must be taken down. And as the trial looms, Mina and her infant son must disappear. The police have found her a safe place to hide on Runmarö Island in beautiful Sandhamn’s archipelago. But there’s no shelter from a man as powerful and merciless as Andreis, especially when he’s being crossed.
Anna Enquist’s The Homecoming, translated by Eileen J Stevens (Amazon Crossing, April 2022) peers deep into the passions, losses, and reveries of the wife of eighteenth-century explorer Captain James Cook. After twelve years of marriage to English explorer, Elizabeth has yet to spend an entire year with her husband. In their house by the Thames, she moves to the rhythms of her life as a society wife, but there is so much more to her than meets the eye. She has the fortitude to manage the house and garden, raise their children, and face unbearable sorrow by herself. As she prepares for another homecoming, Elizabeth looks forward to James’s triumphant return and the work she will undertake reading and editing his voluminous journals. But the question is if the private life she’s been leading in his absence will distract her from her role in aid of her husband’s grand ambitions. Also, she’s not sure if James can find the compassion to support her as their family faces unimaginable loss, or whether she will have to endure life alone as he sails off toward another adventure.
Ruth Lillegraven’s Everything Is Mine translated by Diane Oatley (Amazon Crossing, March 2021) focuses on family secrets, revenge, and righteous fury which collide in this bestselling novel of psychological suspense and intrigue. The married couple Clara and Henrik live in a beautiful inherited villa in Oslo. She is a single-mindedly ambitious child-rights activist at the Ministry of Justice. Having grown up in rural Western Norway, she is also an Oslo outsider. Henrik is a doctor from a well-to-do Oslo family. Though their marriage is under serious strain, they share a devotion to their twin sons and their work. Outwardly, they’re a successful couple both dedicated to saving lives. But when a Pakistani Norwegian boy, a victim of child abuse, admitted to Henrik’s hospital dies in his care, and a related murder rocks the city, a chain of events unearths years of trauma, secrets, and buried resentments at the heart of the couple’s relationship. Then the veneer of normalcy begins to fall away.
Hansjoerg Schneider’s Silver Pebbles, translated by Mike Mitchell (Bitter Lemon Press, January 2022). A Lebanese man carrying diamonds in his bag is on the train from Frankfurt to Basel, a drug mule on the return journey. At the Basel train station Inspector Hunkeler is waiting for him after a tipoff from the German police. The courier manages to flush the stones away in the station WC. Erdogan, a young Turkish sewage worker, finds the diamonds in the pipes under the station. To him they mean wealth and the small hotel he always wanted to buy near his hometown. To his older Swiss girl-friend Erika, the stones signify the end of their life together. She knows that Erdogan has a wife and children in Turkey. For the courier, finding the stones is a matter of life and death. His employers are on their way to ‘tidy things up’. For Hunkeler the stones are the only way to get to the people behind the drug trade. They turn out to include not only the bottom feeding drug gangs, but bankers and politicians very high up the Basel food chain.
And another Swiss author: Joachim B Schmidt and Kalman, translated by Jamie Lee Searle (Bitter Lemon Press, May 2022). Kalmann is the self-appointed Sheriff of Raufarhöfn. Day by day, he treks the wide plains which surround the almost deserted village, hunts Arctic foxes and lays bait in the sea – to catch the gigantic Greenland sharks he turns into the Icelandic fermented delicacy, hákarl. There is nothing anyone need worry about. Kalmann has everything under control. Inside his head, however, the wheels sometimes spin backwards. One winter, after he discovers a pool of blood in the snow, the swiftly unfolding events threaten to overwhelm him. But he knows that his native wisdom and pure-hearted courage will see him through. There really is no need to worry. How can anything go wrong with Kalmann in charge? He knows everything a man needs to know about life – well almost.
Enjoy Easter and påskekrim!