Saturday, March 11, 2006

More Swedish Noir

A recent post gave a nod to Swedish Noir.

Marilyn Stasio, who covers the crime fiction beat for the New York Times Book Review, offers up another award-winning title from Scandinavia.
As we know from the novels of Scandinavian authors like Henning Mankell and Karin Fossum, murder in a cold climate can chill you to the bone. The chill is on in THE PRINCESS OF BURUNDI (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95), which won Kjell Eriksson a best-crime-novel citation from the Swedish Crime Academy for its stunning depiction of the impact of murder on a working-class community in the old cathedral town of Uppsala. Neighbors are shocked and a family is devastated by the savage killing of John Jonsson, a skilled metalworker whose carved-up body is found in a county snow dump shortly before Christmas — "the time of darkness," in the haunting phrase of the translator, Ebba Segerberg. As the son of a construction worker, Ola Haver, a police detective, has a natural compassion for people who live a bit rough but perform their hard jobs with pride. He and his fellow officers couldn't be more sensitive as they probe these marginal lives for clues and reflect sadly on the breakdown of the strong cultural resistance to lawlessness that once made Swedes feel safe. The "homespun theories" of these working-class cops about "the burden of guilt and the inadequacies of our society" lend a melancholy chill to the holiday rituals Eriksson observes with such tender solemnity.
--Marshal Zeringue