There is a great interest currently in Mystery fiction written by Scandanavian writers, many of which are police procedurals. Many of these new writers owe a debt to Swedish writing couple Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo who created the Martin Beck series. Beck and his team work out of the Central Bureau of Investigation in Stockholm. The books are being reissued by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, an imprint of Random House. If you have not read this series, I strongly recommend that you do so, especially if you are a police procedurals fan. The books have a dark feel to them and get progressively more grim as they go along. ROSEANNA is the first book followed by THE MAN WHO WENT UP IN SMOKE and THE MAN ON THE BALCONY. They set the standard for the Scandanavian procedural. Sjowall and Wahloo wrote the rest of the books while the world dealt with far reaching social issues and the Vietnam War. This is reflected in their stories beginning with THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN. Their last book was published in 1975 after Per Wahloo died.
A number of authors have picked up where they ended. Many consider writers like Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo and perhaps the short lived Stieg Larsson as their equals. They have captured the police solving crimes aspect of the police procedural. Often I find writers loose sight of this and go off on tangents like sending too much time on the personal lives of the individual officers or getting into the mind of the criminal and staying there too long.
The Scandanavian writers have a tendency to deal with unsettling subjects in a depressing way. There is little light in their books and very little humor if at all. Everything weighs them down and they plod through it all like they are walking through the gravitational pull of a black hole. And still I read them. Somehow Fossum” Konrad Sejer and his partner Jacob Skarre overcome this and make me hopeful. They deal with the realities of life but manage to come out being themselves.
Try the books by Ake Edwardson, Kjell Eriksson,Mari Jungstedt, Hakan Nesser, Jo Nesbo, Helene Tursten.
Henning Mankell remains one of my favorite authors. His stories are violent and thought provoking with some of the most memorable scenes in fiction. Surprisingly I can remember so many scenes from different books. They are so beautifully written and I get so involved in the investigation and the characters lives that it is like living the book.
Try one of these authors for something a little different. Let me know what you think, please.