The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer



Known for Twilight

Stephanie Meyer is mainly known for the incredibly popular Twilight series (vampire-themed novels). I was both skeptic and curious when I started reading. I didn’t like the Twilight movies, but have to admit I haven’t read the novels.


A young woman and former agent is on the run with rigorous safety measures in place, e.g. sleeping with a gasmask on, different disguises, keeping poison in her earrings, etc. As a chemist and expert in “concoctions” she became a liability instead of a resource when she found out too much information. One day she gets an offer from her former employer that she cannot resist, i.e. helping them to “interview” a guy and in return she would clear her name and get her old life back. The question is if she can/should trust them.

Too Much Romance

This was not my cup of tea. There was too much romance and too little suspense. The main rule for a conspiracy thriller, which you have to categorize this as, is that there has to be a constant looming threat, preferably against humanity and a feeling of “could this be real?” That didn’t happen here. It reminds me of Nora Roberts’ novels, which also feel a bit more romantic, even though I’m guessing that the author maybe thought that the main character’s job as a chemist with macabre job duties, plus a few pretty brutal scenes would give it an edge. If you like the Twilight series and/or Nora Roberts you can disregard my opinions, because you will probably like this novel.


Good Behavior


Good Behavior is a TNT show that I stumbled upon while looking for a new show to stream. I am happy I found it because it is quite good, and fans of crime fiction will appreciate it. It is a throwback, crime noir type show, with a flawed main character–except this time it is a female character, which is a nice change of pace.

Michelle Dockery

I never watched Downton Abbey and was not familiar with Michelle Dockery, but you cannot take your eyes off her, and her performance carries the show. She is paired with an Argentinian actor, who I have also never seen before, but his performance is also outstanding and complements hers perfectly–the chemistry is undeniable. She plays a burglar/con artist, struggling with addiction, just released from prison, and her path becomes intertwined with his character, a mysterious hit-man.

A Rainy Day Show

A TV critic I used to read, Andy Greenwald, complained that most new shows took place in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, or maybe Chicago, but this one is a refreshing departure from that usual path and takes place mostly in small town North Carolina and some of the surrounding states, and the creators use this setting to enhance the look and feel of the show. It is a good rainy day/snowy day show to make it through this winter, and I recommend it if you are able to get access on TNT or other streaming services.

My Year in Books – 2016


2015 was not a year where I focused on reading, but like the booknerd I am I decided to change that in 2016. I created a goodreads account to track my progress, and set the goal to 50 books, which I figured a toddler mom with a fulltime job should be able to do. It is after all less than one book a week.

The result…

– 57 read books (goal met!)

– 89% crime fiction

– 63% Swedish authors

– 58% female authors

It is hardly a surprise that I mostly read Swedish crime fiction, but I had no idea if I had read books mostly by male or female authors, so 58% female authors was a pleasant surprise.

Amanda Knox


I watched the crime documentary Amanda Knox on Netflix a while back. The case received a lot of attention in the U.S. A young, beautiful, American exchange student is convicted and eventually acquitted for the murder on her British roommate in Italy.

It is an interesting film, no matter what the truth is. It shows how much influence media has on people’s opinions and I don’t know what to believe; the only certain thing is that when crimes like these are committed there are no winners.


“There are those who believe my innocence and there are those who believe in my guilt. There’s no in between – either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing or I am you.” (Amanda Knox)

The Girl on the Train — The Movie



The Girl on the Train is a rare type of movie in today’s Hollywood landscape–an adult oriented thriller that is not based on a comic book.  It is not completely original–it is based on a best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, but I’ll take what I can get.  I am also in the camp who has read the book, so if you have not, I am sure the movie will be a completely different experience.  That said, I thought it was a very well done adaptation of this wildly popular crime novel, which surprised me given that early reviews were mixed.

Unreliable Narrator

One of the central concepts of the movie is that the unreliable alcoholic narrator blacks out when she drinks.  This would seem to be a difficult part of the novel to portray on film, but the director does a good job of putting the audience in Rachel’s shoes and showing what that is like.  The director portrays this using a shaky camera with a focus that keeps shifting as she stumbles her way through each scene.  Then the next day, her memories rush back in jumbled flashes.

Impressive Cast

I was also impressed by the cast.  Emily Blunt carries the movie as the main character in another impressive performance–she proved she has range with Sicario, one of my favorite movies of last year, and she shows that again here.

I did not know Haley Bennett before this movie, but she was also good in a key role.  And then some very good actors turned up in relatively small parts, which is always a bonus–Lisa Kudrow as a former acquaintance, and Edgar Ramirez as the therapist.  Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, and Allison Janney were also part of this solid cast.

Overall I recommend it, whether you are curious to see how they adapt the novel or just looking for a solid crime thriller.

Meet Tove Alsterdahl


Tove Alsterdal, welcome to TheCrimeHouse!

How did your writing career start?

With an idea that was so good I had to write it. I was a freelance journalist writing drama, and I first imagined the story as a movie, but it would’ve cost at least SEK 40 million since it takes place in six countries, so I decided to write a novel instead. It was partly about those who die in the Mediterranean, and was published in 2009. It has been sold to several countries and will become a British TV series. With that novel I discovered I could do it.

How would you describe your novels for someone who has never heard anything about them?

They are crime novels without a traditional detective, international thrillers without spies. The victims are the main characters, and they have to solve the mystery to survive. The stories always have elements of reality and love is often the driving force, not evil.

How do you react if I say that I don’t experience your novels as crime novels, but more like contemporary history?

I like to combine the present and the past and be inspired by reality, but never at the expense of suspense. I hide another story within the crime novel, a classic destiny drama. It is more about life than death.

What does your writing process look like, how much of your time is spent on research vs. writing?

I do a lot of research. Even if the story is fictional I want it to feel real, and much of it is. I read a lot and travel to all the places where my characters are active, find the houses where they will live and often even meet the people they will meeting. But the biggest job is always the writing and once I write I must forget about the research, it just needs to be there as knowledge in my body, as if I have experienced it myself. You should never write about something just to show off how much your know.

Do you have a synopsis or do you just write?

Both. I created a detailed synopsis, my stories are too complex so they demand it and I need to know where I am going. But when I start writing I always make changes and I have to be open to new things.

In what stage of the process do you let someone else look at your work and who is it?

I let Liza Marklund in even at the idea stage, we have always discussed our stories and read each other’s texts from the first 30-50 pages until the end. No one else gets to read it until she has finished, she is my extra set of eyes and the one who ensures I don’t get blind and get lost.

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

John le Carré, he is the master of international thrillers. You can say I follow in his footsteps but without major politics and spies. In my novels it is the common people that cross borders and they are driven by the dream of a better life, not power.

Joyce Carol Oates is another role model, her novels usually begins with death, but without being crime novels, and she also blurs the line between the genres, which makes me feel at home.

Let’s say that you would write the next novel with another author, who would that be?

No idea. I happily work with others when I write for theatre and film, but I have a difficult time imagining writing novels with someone else. If I were to do it, it would have to be with someone passionate about the same idea and the idea would have to be stronger than my will to decide everything on my own. Maybe it will happen, but with whom I don’t know.

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

Write! If your idea is strong enough then spend the time and do the job that is needed. It takes several years, so get started. A novel doesn’t write itself. Sometimes it has to be bad before it gets good, it’s not magic, it’s a process. And don’t glance too much at others, write what gets you started, what affects you.

Our readers are, as always, very eager to get to know our fantastic Swedish crime writers, so many thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

Sincerely Mi


Note: This interview has been translated from Swedish. The original interview was published on Deckarhuset Oct 13, 2016.


Those Who Follow


I like conspiracy thrillers, but it is definitely an art to write them. The trick is to get the reader to believe – at least while they are reading – that this could happen in real life. Then it needs to be suspenseful, have gory details, plenty of cliffhangers, interesting characters and an intricately woven plot. I must say I am impressed; this is a really good conspiracy thriller. The Norwegian writer Ingar Johnsrud has done a really good job!

Doomsday Cult

A mass murder is discovered on a farm outside Oslo, where a Christian doomsday cult is located. Someone has shot and killed several of the men, but the rest of the men, women and children are missing. The mass murder gets extra media attention when they discover that among the missing people are the daughter and grandchild of a famous politician. The cult has been feuding with an Islamic group, which becomes a suspect, but is it really that simple?

World War II Connection

The theme is a political powder keg with cultural contradictions. When the story is connected to experiments in racial purity dating back to the 1930s it becomes even more interesting. The main character Superintendent Fredrik Beir is forced to cooperate with a new partner Kafa Iqbal.


Original title in Norwegian: Wienerbrorskapet