A lot of big crime writers coming out of Scandinavia these days, the most high-profile at the moment being the late Stieg Larsson with his celebrated Millennium Trilogy.  That’s the one that begins with the already-filmed The Girl With The Snake Tattoo.  I read that one and thought it was okay, but not great.  Kind of formulaic with a heavy-handed feminism that didn’t add much.

Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series is not as big and cinematic but it has a much more vital feel – less author, more characters.  The one I read was Nemesis in which the alcoholic Oslo police detective gets himself in trouble when he takes up with an old flame while his new flame is out of town.  It’s constructed more like a TV show than a movie, with multiple plots and interesting through-lines for the characters that extend into the books before and after.  What I admired most about it was the construction, the air of realism mixed with very clever mystery novel-style solutions.

Very entertaining and smart and I may read more.

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  • Lars Walker

    I just read Nesbø’s (you’ll note the casual smugness with which I use the Scandinavian ø) _The Redbreast_ recently. It’s about a series of murders of old World War II collaborators. It wasn’t bad, and it didn’t hit me over the head with politics, as I’d feared. What was most intriguing for me was the author’s matter-of-fact treatment of the idea that the Norwegian Resistance to the German occupation was not, in fact, as heroic as has been claimed, and that many Norwegians happily collaborated, at least at first. I’ve been looking for outraged responses from Norwegians, but haven’t found any.