Maria Wern #15

The girl Mirela is bullied by an older boy and she does not know what to do, and she refuses to tell her mother. She looks forward to getting away from the boy when she gets the opportunity to go to a summer camp. It quickly becomes apparent that Mirela is really miserable and one night she disappears from the camp. Maria Wern’s children are at the same camp, and Maria gets involved.

At the same time there are several burglaries in the area, but the police have no clues. Then an old man gets murdered and they wonder if the burglaries are tied to the murder. The man was a German soldier than came to Gotland during WWII and when the police investigate the murder they start suspecting that the solution is in the past.

Maria Wern is also planning her wedding to firefighter Björn, but her past (that we get to know more about) stops her from fully enjoying it.

It Gets Better

This is Anna Jansson’s 15th (!) novel about the poliewoman Maria Wern from Gotland, Sweden. The last novel and this one are definitely two of the best ones in the series. It is difficult to keep long series fresh, but Anna Jansson has succeeded. Maria Wern has gone through a lot, but her relations are renewed without it feeling forced. Good job!

MemoRandom by Anders de la Motte

This is Anders de la Motte’s fourth thriller and the beginning of a new series. His first three novels are all part of the acclaimed Geim-trilogy (Geim, Buzz, and Bubble) that several of us at TheCrimeHouse loved!

Has he done it again? Yes!

MemoRandom is similar to the Geim-trilogy in some ways: they are written in a way that accelerates the tempo to the maximum. They have extremely stylish covers. They both consist of many small elaborate details, e.g. in MemoRandom the title card is twenty pages into the novel, which gives you a feeling of TV series and pop culture. This type of detail is not groundbreaking in itself, but when added to the story it elevates it even further.

Both the Geim-trilogy and MemoRandom are also based on cheezy movie stories (Geim: games IRL via cell phones. MemoRandom: amnesia.)

It may sound like something negative, and usually it IS negative. But they say that there is a subtle line between genius and madness. The same goes for the line between a good and a bad plot. Anders de la Motte’s brilliance is that he with this elaborate storytelling technique succeeds in balancing on that line. And it turns out that the balancing act is quite exciting!

The Plot

David Sarac is a handler at the Intelligence Unit of the Stockholm Police Force. His job is to recruit and manage top secret informants. Manipulation, bribes and threats – no one is asking any questions as long as he delivers results. But David loses his memory after a terrible car accident. He loses control over his advanced network of deception and lies, and he is suddenly fair game for anyone who wants to find out his secrets. He needs to reconnect with the missing informant “Janus” who is high up in the criminal hierarchy to protect himself and his sources. Several people, on both sides of the law, seem prepared to do anything to uncover Janus’s real identity. Or maybe to protect it?

P.D. James Comes to Pemberley

Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. Almost two hundred years later the novel Death Comes to Pemberley by crime writing queen P.D. James is published, and it is meant as a sequel. There are countless interpretations of the original novel, e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The intertextuality is not without significance. P.D. James does what she does best – she lets death come, this time to Pemberley.

Characters

If you are not already familiar with the characters you get an overview. You do not have to have read Pride and Prejudice to appreciate this novel, but it can seem a little strange if you have not. P.D. James uses characters from Austen’s novel and places them in a brand new novel even though they, unlike in many other interpretations, get to stay in their own era. Many certainties are cemented when it comes to the characters and they do not really evolve. The novel almost seems like an author’s wish to rewrite an ending and expose her beloved idols to unpleasantness, like she cannot help but let death touch them a little. Does it work for a Jane Austen fan like me? The answer is yes.

The Storyline

”Fiat justitia ruat caelum, or: Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

The novel is divided into three parts, where the trial takes up the main part. The murder mystery is both corny and unexpected at the same time, and it has an unusually delicate tone for a crime novel. You can hardly say anything else about the storyline. It is the small nuances that hold the story.

My Comments

The novel is well written and P.D. James sets the mood with a dark disposition. She takes the time to articulate what she wants to say and she does not miss anything. But you may ask yourself why P.D. James has decided to take this task on. I experienced the novel as a settlement from the author’s point of view and for me it was not death that came to Pemberley, but P.D. James.

 

The Bilderberg Summit by Anders Jallai

Anton Modin, a former intelligence officer is back in a fourth thriller that takes place in the fishing village where he lives. As usual the author mixes fact and fiction, and this novel is, if possible, even more controversial.

The Bilderberg Summit

Midsummer approaches and instead of the usual tourists the Swedish secret police and foreign security forces are seen in the town. The powerful Bilderberg Group’s annual summit is going to be held at the town hotel, which is closed to the public and the media does not know anything. Why is it such a secret? And is the world really ruled by this group? Anton Modin is drawn into the action against his will when the summit is threatened by a terrorist group.

Controversial Book Commercial

Anders Jallai was ciritziced for the commercial where the Swedish Secretary of State Carl Bildt is shot. Jallai says that he wanted to portray the novel as it is: “a mix of fact and fiction. And the scene actually comes from the novel.”

Best So Far?

Anders Jallai says that ”this is probably my best novel so far.” I disagree, and I think that his first three novels were better, more elaborate, and above all more suspenseful. There are few women in the novel and they are portrayed as sexual objects. The Bilderberg Summit is written by a man, about men, for men, and I am the wrong target market.

 

Original title in Swedish: Bilderbergmötet

Veronica Mars

I must admit that I have never seen the TV series. But I had to watch the Veronica Mars movie since it was in large part in financed by fans (very cool!). The movie has been released in a small number of theaters while also being available on-demand or for purchase (e.g. on iTunes).

I thought the story was ok. It felt like a modern Nancy Drew movie that had had a facelift.

There was also a part of the story that was genius. I cannot say what it was since that would ruin the movie for anyone who has not seen it yet. But once you have, you will know what I meant :) If not, here is a hint, ”goodiebag”!

True Detective

HBO had yet another hit series this winter. Apparently the demand in the U.S. was so high that HBO’s streaming site crashed when the final episode became available…

I stick to the opinion I had after watching the first episode. It is a good and extremely well-done series, but nothing groundbreaking.

In my opinion the series was at its best when it had a vibe of David Lynch and Twin Peaks, but unfortunately that did not happen often enough. Instead the screen was filled with talk, talk, and more talk… This makes me sound negative, and that is not my intention; the series is very good, just not as great as I had hoped.

Alex King is Back

A British diplomatic family in Stockholm is subject to a number of kidnappings and threats. Their ten-month-old son is kidnapped to later be returned repeatedly. The nanny and teenage daughter also disappear at separate occasions. Who wants to demonstrate their power? The police do not have any leads and Alex King get involved in the case since he lives next door to the family.

This is the third novel in the series about behavioral scientist Alex King. His way of analyzing people is fascinating and therefore it is frustrating that he cannot figure out his own actions, especially when it comes to his relationship with the policewoman Nina.

This novel is about power and people’s motivations. It is definitely worth reading, but it is not as good as the first two novels, The Illusion and Atrocity. For the next one I would like the author to put more focus on Alex King’s relationships and hopefully he will figure them out better than he has in the past.

 

Original title in Swedish: Vanmakt

 

The Fall

What a Gem!

Gillian Anderson plays a murder investigator on the hunt for a serial killer, played by Jamie Dornan (who will be a household name soon since he is currently filming 50 Shades of Grey). This is not a whodunit. We know who the killer is from the beginning. We get to follow both him and the police in parallel, but this does in no way make the series less suspenseful. The high quality of the entire production even gave me goose bumps on a few occasions.

Actors

Gillian is brilliant! I have never seen her better; she delivers a mature, smart, tough female police with natural authority. Jamie also does an excellent job. The guy looks like a model, the type who mother-in-laws like, but he still succeeds in delivering a character that is both really disgusting and scary.

Watch It

The series is available on DVD and Netflix. This is a series I could never watch on TV, because I want to have access to all five episodes right away!

 

True Detective

Wow, there has been a lot of hype about this series. The critics have praised it, both for the story and the acting and my Twitter feed has been filled with news about the series for a few months.

Now I have seen the first episode.

So how was it?

You can tell it is an HBO series, the quality is consistently high. The series’ two stars, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, are both excellent actors. The story is interesting and exciting… but… I cannot say that the series is groundbreaking in any way. However, I cannot judge the whole series based on just one episode, there are seven more to come, but I would be surprised if it turns out to be anything other than a very traditional dark crime series (albeit very well-made).

 

Interview with Emelie Schepp

Photo: Eva Lindblad

Emelie, welcome to TheCrimeHouse! For our readers who may not know who you are, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Motala, Sweden and now I live outside Norrköping, Sweden, with my family. I have worked as a Project Manager in the advertising business for several years. This year (2013) I published my first novel Marked for Life and thanks to the novel’s great success with over 30,000 sold books in six months I am considered one of Sweden’s most successful self-publishers.

How did your writing career start? And why did you decide to self-publish Marked for Life?

In the Fall of 2011 I reached a point where I wanted to write more than just texts for ads and articles. I found an ad about a weekend class in how to write movie scripts and decided to go. For two days, in Örebro, I learned about characters and turning points. I was so inspired by the class that I wrote two scripts that I sent to different production companies. Shortly thereafter I read an article about Peter Dalle (Swedish actor), where he pointed out how difficult it is to get financing in Sweden. I remember thinking that “if he does not get support for his movies, how will I ever get it?” To break through with a movie script is incredibly difficult if you do not have any documented movie business experience. And every scene that you add to a movie, makes it more expensive to produce.

I went back to the drawing board and changed my plan. I figured I would write a novel. Because in a novel I could add however many scenes I wanted, without making it more expensive. That’s when I made my decision. I would become an author.

When I had finished my first draft I sent the manuscript to the publishers who would be interested in this type of book. After three months, one publisher had not responded, and I had received a few refusals as well as an offer to publish the novel in the Fall of 2014. I mustered some confidence and called the publisher who had not responded. I gently asked if they had had a chance to review my manuscript, but they said no with the explanation that no one was available to do that at the moment. I thanked them, hung up the phone and thought about the answer I had just received. I thought it was strange that one of Sweden’s largest publishers did not have anyone who reviewed manuscripts. So I went back and forth. The chance that they would accept it was microscopic. The risk that they would refuse it was on the other hand very great. I did have an offer, but the Fall of 2014 seemed so far away. An eternity. And I did not want to wait. I wanted my novel to be published now. I decided to give the large publisher some more time to respond, but at the same time I decided to research alternative ways to publish a novel. So I researched everything about self-publishing. I searched the Internet, read blogs, articles, and everything else I could find about the topic. I understood that there are plenty of self-publishers out there, authors who had gotten tired of the large publishers, authors who had received so many refusals that self-publishing was the only way, and then there were authors who had not even tried contacting the large publishers. I discovered a whole new world of entrepreneurs. And I was tempted to choose the same way as they had done.

When another three months had passed I mustered my courage again and called the large publisher. Had they by any chance had time to read my manuscript now? No. Not now either. And they still did not have anyone who reviewed manuscripts. I thanked them and made my decision. I would go my own way. I would become a self-publisher.

Can you please tell us a little bit about how it works to self-publish? Pros? Cons?

To publish your own novel takes a lot of energy, willpower and time. You have to do everything yourself. As a self-publisher you do not only need to write a novel, you also have to run a publishing company and be your own marketing department, PR agent and distributor. It means you have control of all aspects, but it also requires hard work, all the time. But then again, it is incredible to reach success on your own.

Have people been skeptical because the novel is self-published? (I must admit I would have been sceptical, but luckily I did not find out until I had read the novel, and in this case it would have been completely unfounded!)

No, I have not. I decided early on to package the novel as professionally as possible, I did not want it to give away that it had been self-published. But what really matters to readers, regardless of whether you publish it yourself or if it is done by a traditional publisher, is the text’s quality. A well written and edited text is the most important thing.

How long did it take to finish the novel and how much of that time was research and how much was writing time?

I have figured out that it took approximately a year from when I started thinking about writing a novel until it was available in the stores. The writing itself took a little over six months and I did all the research as I was writing.

The main character, Jana Berzelius, has an unusual background to say the least. Can you please tell us a little about her and how you came up with the character?

I had a basic idea—I wanted to create a strong female character that was exciting and a little odd. But it was not until I read an article in Aftonbladet (Swedish newspaper) that the story came together. The topic in the article was child soldiers and I started thinking about what it could look like if there were young soldiers here. In Sweden. Today. So I worked on the theme, changed and fantasized until I was happy with it. I summarized all my thoughts in a synopsis and when I knew all the major events I started writing. From the beginning to the end.

If (or when) Marked for Life is adapted into a movie, what actors would you like to see as the main characters?

I would like to see Angelina Jolie as Jana Berzelius and Michael Vartan as Henrik Levin.

You have a blog, Facebook page, and you are also a frequent user of Instagram and Twitter. How important is it to reach your readers via social media? Pros? Cons?

Social media is unbeatable when it comes to marketing. It is also an invaluable way to reach new readers and interact with your target market. Thanks to social media you get very close to your readers, which is a huge advantage. A disadvantage is that social media requires constant activity. You cannot take a break for a few weeks, you constantly have to keep all accounts updated.

What advice do you have for our readers who are aspiring authors?

First, if you want to write a novel, you have to actually write a novel, i.e. you have to sit down in front the computer and work continuously on it. Set aside an hour a week, two or more depending on what suits you. Second, write a synopsis, a summary of the novel. Decide how you want the story to begin and end, what characters to include, mark the major events and turning points. A well done synopsis works as a guide when you finally start writing. It is simply a perfect tool.

Do you have any writing role models? If so, who? And why?

My role models are Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril who write using the pseudonym Lars Kepler. They are so good at creating suspense. Another role model is Hans Rosenfelt. I admire his ability to write manuscripts for both novels and TV series.

Are you working on a new writing project? (If so, can you please tell us a little bit about it?)

I am writing on the sequel to Marked for Life where Jana Berzelius had to deal with new challenges.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Good luck with your current project!

 

Note: This interview has been translated from Swedish.