When I began writing about the Scandinavian crime wave and Nordic Noir, I had the field (largely speaking) to myself, with the exception of some academic texts. But that’s no longer the case, as more and more analyses and examinations of the genre begin to appear. Do I resent these rivals? Not for a second — particularly when one encounters someone as perspicacious and insightful as Kerstin Bergman, whose Swedish Crime Fiction is a truly revelatory addition to studies of the subject, a book from which I learnt a great deal. When I met Kerstin Bergman at a recent conference, I lent heavily on her to send me a copy of this book when it appeared (it was not published at the time), and I would like to say that I had devoured it at a couple of sittings, but that’s simply not the case — and I mean that as a compliment. While this modest-sized study of Larsson, Fossum, Mankell and co., may not be even 200 pages long, its rigorous and penetrating analyses are tightly packed with aperçus that require time and energy to be assimilated – and are all the more valuable for that. All of usual suspects are present and correct, but the range of topics covered is surprisingly wide — perhaps the strongest section is on female writers of the Nordic Noir wave and Bergman is particularly authoritative on those women novelists who so far have only enjoyed a sucés d’estime in the UK rather than the prodigious sales they enjoy in the Scandinavian and German countries. While — of course — every true enthusiast should have a copy of my Nordic Noir and Death in a Cold Climate on their shelves, this author has to ruefully admit, damn it, that they also need this invaluable volume as well.
Swedish Crime Fiction: The Making of Nordic Noir by Kerstin Bergman is published by Mimesis