Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Jussi Adler-Olsen

This book has just arrived in-store and I wanted to review it immediately as I read it some weeks back and it is fabulous. Set in Copenhagen, it follows detective Carl Morck as he comes to terms with being relegated to creating a ‘new’ department after a disastrous last case in the Homicide Division in which colleagues were killed and another left permanently disabled. Morck’s first case (which no-one expects him to solve) is one of missing person, Merete Lynggaard, who was last seen five years earlier. She was a government minister about whom little was known beyond her public persona.
The reader realises very early in the novel that Merete is in fact still alive but imprisoned. Carl has no sense of this, assuming he is on the hunt for a body and an explanation for murder.
This is a thoroughly original novel that so captivates the reader as to make him/her feel unease through the chapters depicting Merete’s imprisonment and how she is responding to what has befallen her. Morck’s fall from grace, his demons over what happened to his colleagues, and his refusal to allow his bosses sideline him are wonderfully represented.
A confronting but absolutely riveting novel, this is also the first in a series of four books to feature Morck.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Martin Beck Series

Maj Sjöwell and Per Wahlöö are credited with creating the Nordic crime novel and providing the precedent for all the novels we now enjoy from Scandinavian writers.
Set in Stockholm, their series of books featuring Martin Beck was written over ten years and stands as a wonderful example of character development.

Beginning with Roseanna, written in 1965, the reader meets Martin as he prepares to travel to the locale where the body of a young woman has been found. As he finishes packing for his trip, we learn that “Martin Beck wasn’t chief of the Homicide Squad and had no such ambitions. Sometimes he doubted if he would ever make superintendent although the only things that could actually stand in his way were death or some very serious error in his duties. He was a First Detective with the National Police and had been with the Homicide Bureau for eight years. There were people who thought that he was the country’s most capable examining officer.”

Beck is a methodical investigator and the detailed description of the procedural nature of his work is the hallmark of the authors’ status as the very best crime writers. It takes him six and half months to catch Roseanna’s killer and involves detectives from as far away as America. It is the randomness of her killing and the difficulty of identifying her that dog Beck throughout the investigation. But, it is his calm stubbornness that carries him forward to the ultimate, accurate unveiling of the truth of Roseanna’s death.

Martin Beck will become a favourite detective for avid crime fiction readers.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


It is often remarked that readers of crime fiction think of location as another character in a novel….as an example, Ian Rankin’s descriptions of Edinburgh are as fascinating as is his portrayal of the lead character, Rebus.

I believe this is especially true of Nordic crime. For an Australian who knows only mild to hot weather, the notion of being in a chilly, snow laden landscape is entrancing. To pitch the darkest behaviour of human beings towards others – murder, cruelty, and the like – in this physical landscape is particularly atmospheric.

My enjoyment of Nordic crime is based, loosely, on three characteristics:

-       Atmosphere – the physical landscape and the way it depicts the moods of the characters
-       Psyche – the characters are invariably introspective and complex people who reflect not only on their own emotional state but that of their colleagues
-       Writing – typically well written, the Nordic novelist seems to be adept at character development, plot creation, and weaving themes of social justice and human rights into their storylines.

Future Blogs will be dedicated to my reviews of Nordic crime titles you’ll find in book stores. As well I’ll be reviewing books I have read prior to their publication.

- Mary D.