Seven-year-old Bank Robber
A naked, bloody, seven-year-old girl robs a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. No one in the bank dares to do anything fearing the girl may be harmed even more. Leona Lindberg becomes responsible for the investigation.
The most important component in the novel is the main character Leona Lindberg. Her personality and actions are what make the story interesting and as a reader you want to get to know her better. With a cliffhanger ending I am sure we will get that opportunity.
As a child Leona had problems fitting into society’s norms, but as an adult she has done her best to adapt to her role as wife, mother and police, but with mixed results. It is difficult for her to relate to other people and her actions can often be questioned, but she does what she thinks needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
She reminds me of the female police in the TV-series The Bridge and I also come to think of Lisbeth Salander. Leona is definitely a memorable character!
Breath of Fresh Air
The novel is a breath of fresh air and it has several unexpected twists, which makes it impossible to put down. It is Jenny Rogneby’s debut novel and she is an investigator just like Leona. It makes you wonder how much of her own experiences she has used in the novel. Now the question is – when will the sequel be published?
“Leona is a police, woman and mother, and she’s expected to think and act in a certain way. When she doesn’t, inner and outer conflicts arise, and I think that is interesting to describe.” (Jenny Rogneby)
Original title in Swedish: LEONA – Tärningen är kastad
Several cats are drowned and placed near water and the Hammarby Police is looking for the culprit. When a psychologist is drowned in her bathtub that case becomes prioritized. But is there a connection? When a man dies in a suspected suicide the plot thickens. Several of the police have personal connections to the cases which makes the investigation even more difficult.
In this novel Carn Gerhardsen writes about family ties, secrets and revenge. The title is perfect considering the plot! We get to know some secondary characters a little better, which is appreciated. There are a few things with the plot that bugs me, but I cannot say anything without revealing too much. The novel is definitely worth reading though!
Loose Ends Explained
Thicker than Water is the seventh novel in the series. The novel is described as independent, but I disagree. There are many loose ends from earlier novels in the series that are finally explained, so the novels should definitely be read in the correct order! The quality of the novels has varied but this is one of the better ones.
Original title in Swedish: Tjockare än vatten
Four Asian women are brutally murdered in their apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. They all work for a Thai massage studio. Were they prostitutes? Is the motive racism, human trafficking, or misogyny? The case is assigned to the Special Unit.
All Heroes Are Born From Tragedies
Zack is the main character and antihero. He is handsome, 27 years old, has had a successful career within the Stockholm Police Force and now works for the Special Unit, but he lives a double life. At night he goes to underground nightclubs and snorts cocaine with his criminal best friend.
His mother, also a police, died while on duty when he was 5 years old. The case was never solved, but Zack has sworn to find out who did it.
Zack is the first part in the Hercules series, where the novels are inspired by the labours of Hercules. The Hercules connection is not clear to me, but it is nevertheless an action filled novel with high tempo. I get a bit of a “Stieg Larsson-vibe”, which must be a good thing… I really like Zack’s colleague Deniz and hope that she gets a bigger role in future novels.
If you have missed the hit series Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) you should definitely check it out, because this Netflix original series is good, really good! It is based on the memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” by Piper Kerman.
The series takes place in a fictional prison in Litchfield, New York, and revolves around Piper Chapman. When the series start she is newly engaged and lives a happy, successful life in New York. Her world is turned upside down when she is sentenced to fifteen months in prison, because ten years ago she helped her then girlfriend to smuggle drug money to Europe.
During the first season we get to follow Piper and how she struggles to adapt to life inside the walls. During the second season the other characters get more room and we get to know more about their backgrounds.
Great in So Many Ways
Like I said earlier, this series is really good! It brings up universal problems like racism, money, addiction, love, betrayal and sexuality. It is refreshing that the cast is predominantly female, and also that the cast is so diverse when it comes to race, sexuality and socioeconomic status.
The series also passes the Bechdel Test (it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man), which should not surprise anyone, but there are actually surprisingly few female-focused movies and TV-series that pass this (rather easy you would think) test.
The Yard is Alex Grecian’s first historical crime novel. The novel takes place in London in 1889, soon after Jack the Ripper stopped killing prostitutes. The Ripper is not part of the story but he lingers a collective consciousness among Londoners and they now expect the worst.
One or Two Killers?
Two nasty murders are discovered. In one case they find a Scotland Yard detective dismembered in a trunk with his mouth sown together. In the other case a bearded man’s throat has been cut. Walter Day, a newbie, is assigned to the cases. His colleagues are neither impressed nor helpful, but constable Hammersmith is a loyal hard-working police that helps him out. Day also gets help from Dr. Kingsley, a private medical examiner. Kingsley turns out to be an invaluable resource, and he shows them new techniques that may help them in their search, e.g. fingerprints.
Grecian switches between Day, Smith, Kingsley and the italicized killer. If Jack the Ripper is a mysterious figure, then this killer is more real. He is a mentally ill man who desperately tries to create a family while keeping a façade as a respectable business man.
The atmosphere is bleak. It is a time where some parts of London were incredibly poor, dirty and miserable. There are prostitutes, homeless people, and drunks. Looking to survive or out of greed, people exploit each other in different ways. The police profession is anything but glamorous. The stench follows you inside. We are at the lower echelon of society, middle class at the highest. There is no romantic haze, although there is hope among the people.
If you compare this novel to other historical crime novels it is average. It is somewhat confusing and you have to struggle a bit to keep up. The characters are not groundbreaking, but rather bordering on stereotypical, but they are easy to like. Most important, however, is that the novel is exciting and gives a visual, albeit unpleasant, picture of London during the Victorian era.
I do not watch Swedish TV shows/movies that often here in the U.S., so I was thrilled to find that Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter was available on Netflix (with English subtitles).
The six movies (Nobel’s Last Will, Prime Time, Studio Sex, The Red Wolf, Lifetime, and A Place in the Sun) are based on Liza Marklund’s bestselling novels and although I had read all of them prior to watching the movies I did not remember how they would end. If you have not seen them yet, I highly recommend them.
When Liza Marklund started writing crime novels, she decided to have a female protagonist (Annika Bengtzon) in a genre where they traditionally had been men. She also introduced plotlines that had to do with the characters’ personal lives as well as current social and political issues.
Annika Bengtzon works as a crime reporter for a major Swedish newspaper, and she often finds herself in dangerous situations, but as a consequence, she is able to get the best scoops. She is dedicated to her work, and like many women she struggles to keep a balance between her career and family.
Marklund has said that she wanted to write about “someone who is a bit over the top in every way, who has failings and flaws, but is still believable.” In the movies Annika Bengtzon is portayed beautifully by Malin Crépin.
The Swedish venture capitalist Carsten Jonsson lives in London, does questionable business in Russia and is also building a luxurious summerhouse on a beachfront property at Sandhamn. The locals are upset by his lack of consideration and his wife does not want to spend the summer in the Swedish archipelago. The house is vandalized before the family even moves in.
After a lavish housewarming party the guesthouse burns to the ground, a person dies in the fire, and the police suspect arson. Thomas Andreasson interrupts his vacation to investigate the case. As usual his friend, the attorney Nora Linde, also becomes involved.
The novel is the seventh in the Sandhamn series. Viveca Sten says that each novel is based on a motif for murder and this time it is greed. The novel starts out somewhat slow, but once you get into it, it is difficult to put down.
Original title in Swedish: I maktens skugga
An old and rustic farm on Gotland, Sweden, is put on the market despite the fact that the three siblings who own it disagree. The realtor Sanna Widding gets the assignment but is murdered before the farm is sold. Does the murder have anything to do with the listing?
Anders Knutas is back after his sick leave, and he is put in charge of the murder investigation. This is the twelfth novel in the series, and Anders relationship with Karin has developed further, and they seem to have found a good balance between their private and professional life. We also get some historical glimpses into the family whose farm is for sale.
Typical Jungstedt Novel
If you have read and liked Jungstedt’s other novels you will not be disappointed. The language flows and she has created an exciting story where the past matters (as so often in crime novels).
For the past twelve years a new Jungstedt novel in the series about Anders Knutas has been published each year. Now it seems like she, together with her Norwegian boyfriend novelist Ruben Eliasen, is planning a new crime novel series that takes place on the Canary Islands. What does this mean for Anders Knutas and his colleagues? When do we get to see them again?
Original title in Swedish: Den man älskar
This is the eighth crime novel in the series featuring Greger Thulin. Just like in the other novels the story revolves around an underlying theme, and this time I would say that it is bravery, which turns out to be an incredibly interesting theme as the basis for a crime novel.
Crucified at Klädesholmen is one of the better novels in the series. Ramona Fransson does her own thing; she has a unique narrative style that she has perfected in the last 3-4 novels, without losing her own voice in the process.
A fatal assault on an old man at a cemetery in Gothenburg is the beginning of a series of bizarre murders. There are witnesses to the murder, but why are they not stepping forward? Priest Waldemar Eklund’s wife finds a cross in their yard at Klädesholmen on Tjörn. A young naked dead man is tied to the cross and he does not have any visible injuries. When another crucified naked victim is found, Greger Thulin becomes convinced that the killer is a psychopath who hates religion.
Original title in Swedish: Korsfäst på Klädesholmen
The Catfish (Havskatten) is the fifth novel in the series about Karin Adler in the Gothenburg police department. The story in the present has a connection to the past and all the threads are tied together in the end, just like in Ann Rosman’s previous novels. You can tell than Ann Rosman knows the area and its history well and that she has done extensive research. In The Cathfish the historical story gets as much space as the present one. I do not mind at all, and I would have liked to see the entire novel dedicated to it. It is that good.
The Spa in Marstrand, Sweden, is visited by King Oscar II in the summer and in his footsteps follow Sweden’s gentry. Director Lundberg and his family arrive to the Tourist Hotel in Marstrand in 1906 in hopes of curing the oldest daughter Karolina’s cough as well as finding a husband for her. To inherit her grandparents’ castle he must be suitable in their eyes.
A dead man is found at the run-down Tourist Hotel in Marstrand. Karin Adler and her colleagues are investigating the murder. It turns out that many people in town disliked the murdered man, since he was very active in local affairs and had written numerous letters to the town newspaper.
Original title in Swedish: Havskatten