This is an invaluable purchase. The introduction to Peacock’s detailed and provocative study lucidly lays out the parameters within which he has chosen to work, and immediately (and firmly) confronts a variety of possible objections to the text. Chief among these might be the selectivity which is almost de rigueur in a volume such as this, given that the great majority of the material available for study exists only in untranslated form (both on the page and on-screen), and Peacock makes it clear that the focus in Swedish Crime Fiction will be on material which is largely available to English-speaking audiences, facilitating an engagement with the texts otherwise accessible only to speakers of the Scandinavian languages.

If the value judgements made on certain material (such as a dismissive comment about the Swedish films of the Millennium trilogy of Stieg Larsson) seems selective, other material is recorded and discussed simply in terms of its suggestiveness for a more general discussion

In fact, that is consistent with Peacock’s approach, in which more readily available material (such as the various Larsson films and books) have already invited considerable (and often controversial) examination; Peacock’s value judgements here comprise useful pointers to the films and books which he will consider most fruitful for discussion (Larsson’s work affords Peacock a springboard for a discussion of, among other things, the long shadow of Sweden’s Nazi sympathisers). Inevitably, the wide range of achievement (and its opposite) within Swedish television and film adaptations is not a subject comprehensively tackled by the author, but the book is clearly not intended to be a simple buyer’s guide, and its usefulness and application lies in his strip-mining of the various elements (sociopolitical, interpersonal) that illuminate the books and films Peacock has chosen for discussion.

Peacock takes a variety of provocative approaches to the way in which Swedish crime fiction, film and TV can offer sociopolitical insights and observations; principally through the cold-eyed observations of the (often damaged) detective protagonists. But setting is also illuminated as, for instance, in the section on the treatment of the town of Ystad (as characterised in the various series of Wallander) – Peacock draws clear distinctions between the very different treatments of the area in the three series, from a variety of points of view.

This section also ties in neatly to a consideration of the great commercial success of the company Yellow Bird, behind so many of the highly successful Swedish crime fiction franchises from Henning Mankell onwards. For aficionados of the genre, this is an essential acquisition.

Swedish Crime Fiction: Novel, Film Television by Steven Peacock is published by Manchester University Press

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