Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Older Scandinavian noir and some upcoming titles


While waiting for several new releases of European noir in translation and a new Qiu Xiaolong novel about Shanghai, I went back to reread a Norwegian noir novel called The Butterfly Effect, by Pernille Rygg. I wanted to see whether it might be worth seeking out the second of Rygg's novels about sort-of private detective Igi Heitmann, and couldn't remember the first one all that one (other than that it had some passing resemblance to Smilla's Sense of Snow, a novel I didn't care much for). The Butterfly Effect actually has a VERY superficial resemblance to Smilla (a clinical/scientific setting for part of the book, a young female central character, the Scandinavian setting). Rygg's Igi Heitmann, though, is a believable character rather than a magic-realist cypher. Not that Igi has your everyday problems, unless you're a failed scientist whose detective father was just killed, whose first client apparently committed suicide, and whose husband is flagrantly gay. Igi goes up against the power structures of the psychiatric establishment, the police force that crushed her father's professional hopes, and the financial power of the developers raping the city of Oslo (according to Rygg). More Chinatown than Smylla, in other words. But at every stage, the narrative is low key, Igi is three-dimensionally human, and the story is tragic but believable. I've sent for a copy of the second Igi book, The Golden Section. Meanwhile, upcoming reviews here include The Uncomfortable Dead (co-written by Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman for the Zapatista revolutionaries in Chiapas, Mexico), the aforementioned Qiu Xiaolong novel, a couple of Irish police procedurals, and new translations of noir fiction by ├ůsa Larsson, Helene Tursten, and some other surprises.

3 comments:

Euro Crime said...

Another new Norwegian author is K O Dahl whose 'The Fourth Man' will be out on 1 March. Just so happens I'll be running a competition soon for free copies...
I'm looking forward to reading Asa Larsson as I've not heard much criticism if any. Her first book's out in the UK very soon. I loved Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast and I've got the Rygg books on my TBR!

Maxine said...

I had the Butterfly Effect in my Amazon basket for ages, but then lost interest and deleted it. Maybe I will reinstate it in the light of your post.
Unlike you, I did enjoy almost all of "Miss Smilla's feeling for snow" except for the last tenth or so, as the denoument was kind of silly. But the book itself I did like a lot, the main character's alienation, relationship (not) wiht her father, the Eskimo nationality aspects (which were unknown to me before I read it) and so on.
I have read a couple of Peter Hoeg's books since but not liked them very much. Maybe he is one of the many "one book" authors who should stop after that?

Naftali said...

I'm a relative new-comer to the Swedish crime novel, but have noticed the central role of religious fundamentalism in two recent works: Larsson's *Sun Storm* and Menkel's *Before the Frost*. Could anyone tell me if the authors are responding to a particular phenomenon in Sweden? Is the nation undergoing a religious “revival”? If so, what other authors are worrying the religious angle? Or has this simply always been an element in their culture (I am thinking perhaps of Bergman's films)?