-Post by Molly
Scandinavian crime fiction, with its roots in the 1960s socially conscious police procedurals written by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, has impressed international audiences for some time. With the exploding popularity of writers like Henning Mankell in the 1990s and Steig Larson in the early aughts, this region of few actual murders and sizable numbers of fictional killings has continued its run as a hotspot of international crime.
However, these powerhouse names are just (pardon the pun) the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crime writers of the region. This week in International Crime Fiction Friday, we bring you excerpts from two works by Scandinavian authors – Åsne Seierstad of Norway and Arnaldur Indriðason of Iceland.
Åsne Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist and renowned war correspondent who has written several accounts of life during conflicts. Her works include The Bookseller of Kabul and One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, among others. The following excerpt, courtesy of criminal elements.com, is from One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway, a narrative journalistic account of the massacre. Although this is technically Crime Fiction Friday (emphasis on the fiction), I think you’ll be able to see why I threw a true crime story into the mix. You can find works by Seierstad on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Excerpt: One of Us
Up the hill, through the moss. Her wellingtons sank into the wet earth. The forest floor squelched beneath her feet.
She had seen it.
She had seen him fire and a boy fall.
‘We won’t die today, girls,’ she had said to her companions. ‘We won’t die today.’
More shots rang out. Rapid reports, a pause. Then another series.
She had reached Lovers’ Path. All around her there were people running, trying to find places to hide.
Behind her, a rusty wire fence ran alongside the path. On the other side of the netting, steep cliffs dropped down into the Tyrifjord. The roots of a few lilies of the valley clung to the mountainside, looking as though they had grown out of solid rock. They had finished flowering, and the bases of their leaves were filled with rainwater that had trickled over the rocky edge.
From the air, the island was green. The tops of the tall pines spread into each other. The slender branches of thin, broadleaved trees stretched into the sky.
Down here, seen from the ground, the forest was sparse.
But in a few places, the grass was tall enough to cover you. Flat rocks hung over one part of the sloping path, like shields you could creep under.
There were more shots, louder.
Who was shooting?
She crept along Lovers’ Path. Back and forth. Lots of kids were there.
‘Let’s lie down and pretend we’re dead,’ one boy said. ‘Lie down in strange positions, so they think we’re dead!’”
Arnaldur Indriðason burst onto the international scene with his multi-generational genetic thriller, Jar City, the first featuring Detective Erlender to be translated into English. His series numbers 14 in Icelandic and is up to ten Erlender novels available in English today. Also courtesy of criminalelements.com, I present to you an excerpt from Reykjavik Nights. You can find copies of the Erlender Series on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Excerpt: Reykjavik Nights
“…‘What is it?’ asked one, poking cautiously with his pole.
‘Is it a bag?’ asked his friend.
‘No, it’s an anorak,’ said the third.
The first boy prodded harder, jabbing the object until finally it moved. It sank from view and they fished around until it floated up again. Then, by slow degrees it turned over, and from under the anorak a man’s head appeared, white and bloodless, with colourless strands of hair. It was the most gruesome sight they had ever seen. One of the boys let out a yell and tumbled backwards into the water. At that, the precarious equilibrium was lost and before they knew it all three had fallen overboard, and they waded shrieking to the shore.
They stood there for a moment, wet and shivering, gaping at the green anorak and the side of the face that was exposed above the water, then turned and fled as fast as their legs would carry them…”