Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Scandi-Noir - Camilla Ceder's "Babylon" & Karin Fossum's "I Can See In The Dark"

Two very different psychological crime books by Scandinavian women - Camilla Ceder (fairly new to the genre with Babylon being her second book) and Karin Fossum, an award-winning great of Nordic Noir.

Ceder is a young Gothenburg-based Swedish writer with a background in social work and Babylon (2013, UK Publisher: Pheonix) is her second novel, featuring Inspector Christian Tell and journalist Sejer Lundberg.
A young man and an older woman, his tutor, are found shot dead in an apartment. The young man's girlfriend, who has a history of violent jealousy, is a suspect in the murder. As it should be in crime fiction... things are not always what they seem.... and some of the events touch on the consequences of the sack of archaeological treasures in a war zone. Ceder has an acute sense of individual psychology and the story, anchored by the young journalist Sejer, twists about masterfully, building suspense in its final race to save lives. Its excellent translation by Marlaine Delargy, who has also translated Johan Theorin and Asa Larsson, ensures it reads well for an English audience.
You can read a full Euro Crime review  here.

I Can See In The Dark  (2014, UK Publisher: Vintage) is a short standalone book by Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum which gives us the chillingly dark portrait of its narrator, Riktor - a loner, a nurse in a local care home and a man whose careful manners and smile masks the urges and hallucinations of his world. A true sociopath, his manipulative actions escalate, reaching a dreadful conclusion. One day a police inspector walks up his path - and accuses him of a crime.... which he has not committed. Fossum has performed a feat of empathic writing with this story, full of unease and suspense but leaving me with an appreciation of the damage in Riktor and some pity for him. .... (But maybe I'm a bit crazy that way.) Not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it is a brilliant book. A full Euro Crime review is here.

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