Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: Scandi-Crime

Trips to Sweden

I’d love to go to Sweden but seeing as that isn’t imminently on the cards I’ll have to content myself with some Swedish books: Before the Frost by Henning Mankell and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

Over the last four years I’ve been working my way through the Wallander series and now I only have one left! Before the Frost is another chilling murder investigation, this time with a focus on religious extremism. The book focuses on Kurt Wallander’s daughter Linda as she joins the police force. It was interesting to see the character I feel like I’ve come to know well from another perspective, although I’ve never been particularly fond of Linda.

I’m really sad that I’ve almost come to the end of this series – I’ve just got The Troubled Man left to read. Having said that, I have heard that Henning Mankell’s non-Wallander novels are just as good and I do own copies of Depths and The Man From Beijing which I could try next.

I got into Wallander because of the BBC series with Kenneth Brannagh. The programme is on its third series, and I was pleased to find out that they are showing Before the Frost on Sunday. So it was a well-timed read! I don’t read crime fiction other than Wallander and the occasional Jo Nesbo, but I’d really recommend these. As I have said MANY times before, Mankell is an amazing writer and a master of human psychology. His criminals are often incredibly dark and disturbing, but never so far removed from humanity that you aren’t completely chilled.

If I wasn’t convinced I wanted to read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by the title, I certainly was by the sticker that was on the envelope containing my copy:

This wasn’t the book I was expecting it to be – it was much more (and better). This is the story of a man who escapes from his retirement home just before his hundredth birthday party. His escape, despite being at quite a low speed, is classic black comedy as he attracts all sorts of shady and eccentric characters. The story keeps flashing back to earlier parts of his life – the more I found out about the man, the more hooked I was! I don’t want to go into the plot details so much because the surprise is really what made this book for me. All in all, reading this felt like a real adventure.


Nemesis, Jo Nesbo

Yes, I will slowly be reading this entire series. This was just as fast paced and intriguing as The Redbreast, although with even more twists and turns. Nesbo moves away from Norwegian history this time and instead follows a more classic crime scenario: bank robberies. However, nothing so clichéd as your average bank robbery of course.

For a good introduction to Jo Nesbo and his novels this slate review worth looking at.

Lets Not Talk About Larsson.

The Redbreast, Jo Nesbo

Alas, my holiday is over so thats the end of my holiday book list! I went for a bit of scandinavian crime this time. This was a proper page turner, and mixed modern day with 1940s war stories. Very dark, masculine, and unrelenting. A bit confusing, but that could be me reading too fast and not concentrating enough. I never manage to guess who the murderer is! Nesbo’s detective is quite intriguing so I’ll perhaps read some more in the series.

Oh, and a good translation too.

Henning at Hay

On saturday I went to the Hay Festival for the very important single purpose of listening to Henning Mankell. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about him, you’ll know I’m a massive fan and generally think he’s amazing. Which is putting it in a very toned down way. Now, they say never to meet your heroes, but I’m ecstatic to report the opposite was true when I met mine. Throughout the talk he was nothing but intelligent, charming, an excellent storyteller, witty, interesting … and when he signed my book (swoon) he was very pleasant and made an effort to say something to me.

I got to tell my hero he was inspiring and I’ve been on cloud nine since. Incidentally if you don’t know much about Henning Mankell you should firstly read some of his books, and secondly look up his involvement in the Gaza flotilla, AIDS charities, his theatre company, and his philosophy: if one person is not free, no one is free.

The Pyramid

# 23 The Pyramid, Henning Mankell

It is so easy to justify my intense respect and appreciation of everything Henning Mankell does. I mean, come on, the man is a modern hero, any google search will tell you that. But in addition to all that awesomeness, he writes fantastic scandinavian crime fiction. Bonus: his police detective is not an arrogant Sherlock Holmes type, or a punky hacker with bad social skills. Instead Kurt Wallander is an everyman. The Pyramid is a back track through some of his first cases, way before the series originally began. My only criticism: Wallander’s thoughts sound no younger. But I suppose we can put that down to some people just being set in their ways. 

The White Lioness

The White Lioness, Henning Mankell

I have a massively intellectual school girl crush on Henning Mankell. He’s brilliant. And also brilliant at writing. The Wallander series is the only series of books I’ve actually gone out, bought, and read in its entirety. Swoon.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

I hadn’t expected to finish this book today but I got hooked! The basics are that this crime fiction is gripping and really, really grisly. Its a very violent novel, I learnt today that the Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women… which is very apt, but also not hard to see why our Larsson fix is packaged kind of differently. However, the violence isn’t like american style action films, its more psychological and disturbing on that level, rather than just for the sake of shock value. I like Swedish writing, I was taken aback by how much I like this book, but it isn’t the best I’ve read. There is far too much detail for one thing; I don’t care about what specific computer programme someone is using, or how much RAM their laptop has. But as a sidenote I did enjoy hearing what novels Blomkvist was reading. (English crime… hooray!) But the story kept my attention after the slightly slow start – I would advise people who don’t enjoy the first couple of chapters to stick with it. The pace changes pretty regularly from intriguing build up to page turning madness, which I do like.

Expect reviews of the second book of the trilogy at some point!