Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mysteries set in places you may never visit: Sweden

Swedish mysteries are becoming very popular in the United States and more authors are being published here. Henning Mankell is the top best selling Swedish author. His books are described as Swedish noir in that they are brooding, intense and emotionally wrenching. His police detective, Kurt Wallender is a grumpy, overworked policeman in the small Swedish seaside city of Ystad. He solves cases through perspiration and sheer doggedness. As in many police procedurals there is a lot of grunt work, but also an emphasis on the lives of the policemen, and the teamwork needed to solve the crimes.
Kjell Eriksson has won the Crime Writer award for his police procedurals. Like Henning Mankell, he is very adept at spinning a tight and suspenseful mystery plot. Eriksson's books are known for their psychological and sociological insights and for their heart. This series features Ann Lindell, an inspector in Uppsala. We have two of his novels and a new one is coming out in April 2008. This series might also appeal to teens.
Asa Larsson won Sweden's Best First Crime Novel for Sun Storm. Her books are less of a police procedural and more of a psychological thriller. Both of her current novels involve tax attorney (as was Larsson), Rebecca Martinsson and revolve around religious mania. The action takes place in the small remote town of Kiruna, which Larsson uses to create a claustrophobic atmosphere of impending cataclysm. She is my favorite Swedish author.
Ake Edwardson has won the Swedish Crime Writer's prize three times. He has written twelve police procedural mysteries featuring Erik Winter, the youngest Detective Chief Inspector in Sweden. The first novel Sun and Shadows introduces us to Erik who has to deal with the coming birth of his first child and his father's death while in the middle of a murder investigation. His second novel Never End focuses more on the crime and on the personal issues of his fellow detectives. His detectives are likable and believable and the weather is as much a part of the story whether it is the summer heat or winter's cold.
We have one novel featuring Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser. In this book, he is investigating an ax-wielding serial killer. His books are similar to those written by Henning Mankell, except that Van Veeteren can display a charming side.
Other Scandinavian authors you may enjoy include Karin Fossum and Peter Hoeg.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A New Roommate

The Monk Downstairs is a lovely little book by Tim Farrington. All the right components are there: a smart, capable woman, a curious and precocious child, a quiet contemplative man, and above all, a finely written story. Rebecca Martin, a divorced single mother, rents a garage apartment to Michael Christopher, who has recently left the monastery in which he spent the last twenty years of his life. Rebecca has been feeling disillusioned and somewhat lonely, and Michael is struggling with his reasons for leaving the contemplative life for a life of action in the world. Readers will smile and sympathize as they see these two people, from their first hesitant conversations, develop a friendship that grows toward something deeper that buoys them both. This book is the selection for the Delphi Book Club that meets on Friday, November 16, at 9 a.m. at the library. Come and join the discussion!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


In the Presence of My Enemies, by Gracia Burnham, is the gripping account of the kidnapping of American missionaries and their year of terror in the Philippine jungle. Kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, the Burnhams were snatched away from friends and family and thrust into a life on the run in the Philppine jungle, where they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, coldhearted murder and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them. In this heart wrenching story you will see "the not why an all-powerful God might choose to subject a man to evil, but how a man, with God's help responds to evil..." (Non-Fiction 921 Burnham) This is the November 2007 selection for the Faith-Inspired Book Club!