Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Scandinavian Mysteries for the Long Hot Summer

From Pat King - The summer in Phoenix always starts early and ends much later than any of us would actually like. One hundred days or more of 100 degree temperatures and blazing sunshine can make anyone feel depressed. There are times when any Phoenician would gladly trade in his or her home, in what many feel is paradise, and live someplace where the sun does not break through the overcast skies, where sweaters are required rather than a fashion statement, and fireplaces are something that you actually use. Yes, in the next two weeks we would gladly eat herring on a stick and play chess with Death rather than suffer through the agony and horror of the summer season that ends right around Thanksgiving. Perhaps this is why so many of our local customers have discovered the beauty of Scandinavian Mysteries- a perfect escape from the long, long, long summer. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwal and Per Wahlöö

Sjowal’s and Wahloo’s strong and gritty prose is at their finest within this novel. On a cold, rainy winter night, nine bus riders are gunned down in cold blood. Superintendent Martin Beck is called in to investigate the crime and determine who the gunner is and if the action was in cold blood or a deadly assassination attempt. The writers capture the sense of Stockholm perfectly; the setting and the story will freeze the reader to their very bones.

The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg

A young police investigator by the name of Patrik Hedstrom is called in to investigate a case where two hiker’s bodies have been found after a 22 year disappearance. Lackberg’s novel shines with the development of a complex mystery; however, what I really love is her great character development and realistic dialogue (kudos to the Translator). Within Lackberg’s novel, a foreigner like myself feels at home in this Scandinavian thriller.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This is my favorite book of the year. I’m a little late writing about it but so many books have paled in comparison to this novel over the past few months. This novel is about a journalist who has been accused of slander and defamation of character by the head of a corporation of whom he had been writing about. Faced with a jail sentence and a hefty fine. Why would such a careful journalist place his livelihood at risk? Rich writing, strong plot and spectacular action makes this author my current favorite.

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