Scandinavian crime fiction is going through an unlikely renaissance, writes Julie Bosman in The New York Times. And it's all the fault of a "tattooed, secretive, bisexual computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander" — the heroine of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels), which has already sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. alone. The author's 2004 death precludes any lucrative follow-up (though "an unfinished fourth manuscript" may change that) but publishers — and other bestselling authors — are desperately looking for new ways to deliver Larsson's "brand of Scandinavian mayhem." The staff at Powell's Books in Portland, Bosman reports tellingly, refer to Larsson's heroine as "The Girl Who’s Paying Our Salaries for the Next Few Months." An excerpt:
"Scandinavian writers who have had small but devoted followings are now seeing their books showcased alongside Mr. Larsson’s extraordinarily popular series. The intense interest in the Larsson books prompted the staff at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., to create a special section in the store for two dozen Scandinavian mysteries, by Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, Kjell Eriksson and Yrsa Sigurdardottir....
"Even non-Swedish mystery writers seem to be inspired by the Scandinavian genre. James Patterson, the prolific author of breakneck thrillers, chose Stockholm as a setting for “The Postcard Killers,” a book coming out in August that he wrote with Liza Marklund, a Swedish novelist.
"Mr. Patterson insisted that he was not trying to copy Mr. Larsson. “This is just an accident with respect to my working with a Scandinavian writer,” he said in an interview. “For 10 years, I’ve known that vampire books are going to be big. I’m not writing vampire books.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- After Ferguson, we don't need another dialogue on race
- Russia's new air force is a mystery
- 10 things you need to know today: August 27, 2014
- The government is getting into the fact-checking business. Be very, very afraid.
Subscribe to the Week