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Easter crime fiction

It may stem back to the mountain cottage of my childhood, right next to the Norwegian border. Or it may just be that I’m an avid bookworm with a fascination for morbid subjects. Whatever the reason, I’ve always been a big fan of the Norwegian tradition of reading crime fiction at Easter time. After all, what could be better than taking time off work, heading to the mountains or the countryside – ideally with sparkling snow, spring sunshine, melting icicles, snowdrops and evenings spent in front of a roaring fire – all with a gripping detective novel or two?

Published 3/30/2015

Why crime fiction at Easter?

The Norwegian tradition is said to have begun in the 1920s when a Norwegian newspaper published a detective serial during Easter week. This was clearly a great success, because the Norwegian publishing industry soon caught on and kept the tradition alive. One reason was probably the fact that Norwegian mountain cottages – just like holiday cottages everywhere – were often quite basic, and people would rely on traditional games and books to pass the time. Today, of course, it is no longer as a result of circumstances that Norwegians read crime fiction at Easter, but the tradition is still going strong. It has even spread to TV and radio – and made inroads across the border into Sweden.

Some suggested reading

In celebration of Easter crime fiction, we would like to tell you about some less well-known Nordic crime writers:

Matti Rönkä

Finland’s Matti Rönkä made his début in 2002 with the detective novel Tappajan näköinen (A Man with a Killer’s Face, due to be published in English in October 2015). The protagonist, Viktor Kärppä, is a man with a chequered history: born in Karelia of Ingrian heritage, with a Finnish Soviet defector for a father, and later returning to Finland. Against this background, he automatically comes into contact with the shadowy world of Eastern Bloc immigrants and its conflicts and problems.

Oliver Truc

Olivier Truc is a French war correspondent who ended up in Stockholm and developed a fascination with the Sami, their land and their history at the crossroads of Norway, Finland and Sweden. Truc’s book La dernier Lapon (Forty Days Without Shadow: An Arctic Thriller, translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie) is set in Lapland and is a tale of a missing shamanic drum, murder and severed ears. It reflects the historical disputes, racism and conflicts of reindeer herding, and the problems of mining. All set against a backdrop of the weather, darkness and snow.

Karen Engelmann

Karen Engelmann is an American who previously worked as an illustrator and graphic designer at Ikea and the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet, spending a total of eight years based in Malmö. Her début novel The Stockholm Octavo is set in late 18th century Stockholm. Amid turmoil in Europe and Stockholm, schemes are under way to overthrow the king. This is a tale of greed, power, intrigue, prophecy, folding fans and high ambitions during a time of political turbulence.

Jörn Lier Horst

Jörn Lier Horst is a police officer in the Norwegian county of Vestfold who also writes crime fiction. Jakthundene was published in 2014 (translated into English by Anne Bruce as The Hunting Dogs), and features Chief Inspector William Wisting. When Wisting is suspended on suspicion of having fabricated evidence in an old investigation, he is forced to try to uncover the truth himself.

Eva Heljesten

And finally, a writer from Sweden. Eva Heljesten is a translator and professional writer, and now also an author. Her first book, Den gula giraffen (“The Yellow Giraffe”), was published as an e-book in 2014. A murder is committed in a forest north of Stockholm, and turns out to have links to Germany. Soon, more bodies are found…

More crime

Other exciting Nordic crime writers to look out for include:

  • Kati Hiekkapelto
  • Hans Olav Lahlum
  • André Bjerke
  • Tom Egeland
  • Christoffer Carlsson
  • Marko Kilpi
  • Fredrik Hardenborg
  • Gunnar Staalesen
  • Arnaldur Indriðason

Happy Easter, and happy reading!

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