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In this special category celebrate the best of the blossoming crop of high quality crime writing coming from the Scandinavian countries.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Some books are claustrophobic as they isolate their characters in a constricted setting, but Norwegian crime author Ravatn achieves the curious exploit of making a novel mostly set in the vast open air of the fjords claustrophobic as its two sole characters (aside from just a couple of outside 'extras') stew, fight, love and so much more in a cabin by a lake under the wide open sky. Allis, a journalist in disgrace, seeks a new life as a cook, gardener and helper with Sigurd, a taciturn older man who owns a cabin in a remote region of Norway, and whose wife is mysteriously absent. The psychological cat and mouse game is gripping as they clash, repel and attract and questions soon are raised about their previous lives and how past events will affect their future together or apart. Intense, lapidary, dream-like and streaked with anxiety, this is not a comfortable book, with not always likeable obsessive characters, but it proves rewarding as an investigation into the blank darkness of lost souls. ~ Maxim Jakubowski One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Lovereading view... A subtle, quietly sinister tale, where the tension slowly creeps and coils around the edge of your understanding. Allis removes herself from her previous life to become a housekeeper for Sigurd. On the edge of a fjord in a lonely existence, can Allis make sense of her life and reveal the secrets that cloak the house? Agnes Ravatn hasn't used quotation marks, this creates an intimacy with the words, yet they somehow echo with desolate intensity. The translation by Rosie Hedger is perfectly and completely in tune with the story. Gradually, slowly and almost silently, information is revealed, which kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Bird Tribunal’ unsettles, agitates and unnerves before a fierce concentrated rush of drama filled pages… and yet at the end, I detected a whisper of uncertainty floating in my mind, which actually left me feeling very satisfied indeed with this enthralling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...I had my eye on The Bird Tribunal for quite some time before I was in a position to acquire rights to publish in English, and I watched it win countless awards in its native Norway and go on to be made into a stage play. When a reader’s report and then the fabulous translation came in, I was not disappointed. It is one of the most captivating, tense, dramatic thrillers I have read in years. With only two characters and a Rebecca-esque plotline, it is beautifully written, with the isolated Norwegian fjord and the gardens of the solitary house situated there exquisitely described, and the sense of foreboding, the slow building of tension, the trickle of insights into the characters and the secrets they are hiding, make it an exceptional read. It’s already won an English PEN Translation Award, and been chosen for WHSmith’s Fresh Talent for the Autumn, and I could not be prouder to publish a book that takes Nordic Noir to fabulous new heights and marks the arrival of a major new talent in the genre. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
This truly is a crime novel to tamper with your thoughts and send them skittering off in all directions. ‘Blackout’ takes place in June 2010, following on from ‘Snowblind’, the first in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series. A fascinating murder investigation by police and a reporter takes place during the time the ash cloud from a volcanic eruption affected the country and air travel, ensuring a heightened sense of foreboding and tension. A number of main characters feature, including self reliant Ari Thor Arason, who polices the most northerly village in Iceland, and Isrun, a TV news reporter. I have to admit it did take me a little time to get to know all of the characters, however I do believe ‘Blackout’ works well as a standalone novel. Ragnar Jonasson writes with a bitingly sparse, to the point style, and Quentin Bates has translated his words skilfully, ensuring the story flows. The first part of the novel sews confusion and encourages questions, it almost feels as though two or three jigsaws of information have been thrown into the air to land in one jumbled pile. With several menacing stories, creeping and melding into one, ‘Blackout’ is a wonderfully gripping and gritty novel.
A truly tenacious and back to basics Nordic crime novel featuring private investigator Varg Veum. Staalesen has been writing about Veum since 1977, however this is my first foray into the series, and found it could easily be read as a standalone. 25 years after a three year old disappears in mysterious circumstances, the mother hires Veum to take one last look at the case. As Veum begins his painstaking detective work, he begins to dig deeper and further than the police have been before, and starts to uncover some disturbing links to another crime. Staalesen writes with a clipped, matter of fact style, the sharp delivery in the first person really sets Veum centre stage. There are an awful lot of characters to get to grips with and it’s worth getting them straight in your mind, right at the beginning of the novel. With plenty of surprises in store and an intriguing case, ‘Where Roses Never Die’ sets your mind working overtime and is a gripping read. A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher... 'Gunnar Staalesen is one of the fathers of Nordic Noir and the creator of the unforgettable private investigator Varg Veum. Only six of the 20-odd titles in the series have been translated into English to date, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to publish the remainder, beautifully translated by Don Bartlett. Known as the ‘Norwegian Chandler’, Staalesen is a master of his craft, creating tightly plotted, page-turning and extraordinarily atmospheric thrillers that tackle social issues in the finest tradition of Nordic Noir. As Sarah Ward says in Crime Pieces, ‘Staalesen’s greatest strength is the quality of his writing. The incidental asides and observations are wonderful, and elevate the books from a straightforward murder investigation into something more substantial.’ I could not agree more. Where Roses Never Die is Staalesen’s best book to date, and I could not put it down until I had devoured every last word, and then re-read the stunning, completely unexpected denouement, just in case my eyes had deceived me. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books
Annika Bengtzon has spent her career telling stories that need to be heard. As a journalist, she's always been at the front line of criminal reporting, alongside the investigating officers. And now a court case that she's been reporting on - the savage murder of a homeless man - has begun to attract a lot of attention.
Siglufjordur: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thor Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman - shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.
It sometimes feels as if everyone in Iceland is writing crime novels but the first appearance of Ragnar Jonasson in English translation (itself a fluid adaptation by British mystery writer Quentin Bates) is cause for celebration. Previously known as a major Agatha Christie translator, he brings that experience to bear on the clever way he weaves the intricacy of small village activities into life, with a slightly darker hue, in his dead Iceland series of which this is the first to be issued here. Ari Thor Arason is a young policeman on his first out of city posting, in a small fishing village in Northern Iceland accessible only by a tunnel. When murder hits the small knit community, Ari, a fish out of water, pining for his distant girlfriend, has to summon his inner fibre and unthread the complex strands of the enquiry amongst a bout of harsh weather that is as much a character in the book as the village's inhabitants. First class classic detection with a frozen twist. ~ Maxim Jakubowski A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
Discover one of the best Scandinavian crime series since Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole. It's the call every officer dreads. Stockholm Criminal Investigator Conny Sjoberg finds a mother and her two young children lying peacefully in bed, their throats coldly and efficiently cut and no signs of a struggle. As Conny and his team get to work they draw a blank on both motive and suspect for these cruel, senseless murders. The only lead they have is a mysterious benefactor of the family - who eludes their every search. Distracted and hampered by the mysterious disappearance of one of their officers, Conny's squad struggles on - until an astonishing discovery turns the case upside down and threatens to tear his team apart...
At the end of a deadly bear hunt across the wilderness of Northern Sweden, the successful hunters are shaken by a grisly discovery. Across in Kurravaara, a woman is murdered with frenzied brutality: crude abuse scrawled above her bloodied bed, her young grandson nowhere to be found. Only Rebecka Martinsson sees a connection. Dropped from the case thanks to a jealous rival, she now stands alone against a killer who brings death to young and old, spawned by a horrifying crime that festers after one hundred years on ice.
Over the last decade there has been huge growth in the popularity of translated crime novels from the Scandinavian countries. They’ve led to an explosion in the popularity film and TV from these countries and together they are referred to as Nordic noir or Scandi crime.