Sat 1 Aug 2009
It seems that Scandinavia (you know.. Denmark, Sweden, et al) is currently the home of the crime novel elite. Which means, according to Slate magazine, that more people are murdered in Scandinavian crime fiction than are actually murdered in reality. You have probably heard of some of the Scandinavian crime writers, if only Peter Høeg of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. In fact, last year one of them was apparently the second most popular author, globally, of any genre. So, it was about time I read one of his books.
Grim, suspenseful, nasty but good.
When the author, Stieg Larsson, handed over the manuscript of this novel, he was not to know he wouldn’t live to see it published. Luckily for us, he also handed over the manuscripts to the two follow-up novels, so we have more of his work to indulge in, as it is really very good.
This crime story is set in Sweden, and is provided to us in translation. The feel of Sweden seems to come through strongly for me in reading it, and part of the enjoyment was in the sampling of the culture, which the translator has left intact.
The story itself starts slowly, and quickly turns macabre. I did not enjoy some of the sick turns that the plot took, and given that the tale took up residence in my brain for a few days, it was not pleasant. However, there is much to like in both the plot and characters.
There are also some interesting themes woven into the book, covering journalistic ethics, violence against women and even citizen’s rights. The philosophy covered in those areas was more extensive than I would’ve expected for a crime thriller, and it’s more what I’d expect in science fiction.
I am looking forward to reading the next book.