The Crow Girl: Scandi s-l-o-w

A great lumbering beast of a book, this one failed to grab me and – unusually – I bailed out after the first instalment (it’s effectively a trilogy in one publication). I found it long-winded, fragmented and unrewarding, veering between explicitly described violence (which I don’t mind so much if it serves a purpose) and…

The Sword Of Justice: a slice of Swedish ‘super-salami’

Superintendent Evart Bäckström is one of Scandi crime’s outstanding creations. He’s an utterly loathsome creature; lazy, corrupt, bigoted and entirely self-centred. Yet his sly intelligence and his ability to manipulate any situation to suit himself mean that he has an impressive case clearance rate and a public persona to match his inflated self-image. Bäckström is…

The Mind’s Eye: a great start but slow progress

Van Veeteren is among the most famous of Swedish fictional detectives, but this was my first written encounter with the character. This book started off brilliantly with a mystifying mystery of the locked room tradition: a drowned wife in a locked bathroom, the husband so inebriated he could only remember their wild festivity of the…

Linda, As In The Linda Murder: sophisticated Scandi satire

A meticulous Scandi crime police procedural, one told with wit and intelligence and no small measure of on-the-job experience. When a young woman is murdered during an unusual heatwave in a Swedish summer, all the competent cops are sensibly on holiday. The flaky chief of police, who goes delightfully further round the bend as the…

Victim Without A Face: making a commercial killing

This notionally Nordic noir / Scandi crime novel will go down a storm with the mainstream thriller audience. The blurb compares it to ‘Henning Mankell at his best’… which is total baloney. Mankell wrote carefully considered police procedurals which use credible criminal investigations to explore sombre truths about conflicts in modern liberal societies. Fabian Risk…