Nordic Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film & TV

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But perhaps the ingredient that is most crucial to the celebrity of the books is the infusion of the writer's own energetic social conscience, part and parcel of his desire to right the egregious wrongs of society. Mankell's social conscience, like that of many another crime writer, has been shaped by the left-wing views of the s. His political trajectory is in accord with that of many intellectuals born in the late s. The issues addressed in the various books — from the corrupt influence of Big Pharma and the ruthless prerogatives of multinationals, to people trafficking and his country's barely disguised racism — are clearly powered by the author's own social engagement.

He is known for his theatre work in the continent in which he spends so much time, Africa, attempting to ameliorate the lot of ordinary Africans. Surprisingly under- reported in the context of the author's own activism was the fact that he was present on the ships that attempted to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Quite simply, there is no gainsaying Mankell's dedication to changing people's lives for the better, as important to him as his literary activities.

More than gloomy Nordic Noir

Readers, however, can be forgiven for preferring the time he spent on the latter discipline. They had now been safely rendered into the language it was felt in which they clearly always belonged, by translators whose profile was far lower than that enjoyed by the profession today. Henning Mankell, however, was one of the writers who changed this ethos, not least because of the specifically Scandinavian tone of his work, markedly different in myriad ways from the kind of writing appearing in either Britain or America in the s. The reviews for his first Kurt Wallander book, Faceless Killers , appearing in the UK in were almost all favourable, remarking on a highly individual new voice in the genre, one whose writing had real heft and intelligence.

Readers quickly took to the taciturn, difficult protagonist — not in the best of health, impatient, uncomfortable with his superiors the latter, of course, being de rigueur for literary coppers and struggling to cope with a variety of family issues. As the series progressed, we saw Wallander attempting to cope with a father in the early stages of Alzheimer's and with a resentful daughter who felt neglected and betrayed by him.

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But such was the richness of Wallander's characterisation — a richness shared with characters in many a more prestigious 'literary' novel — that Mankell quickly achieved pole position in the crime fiction genre. Faceless Killers, too, established the author's readiness to take on his country's fractious relationship with its then-undiscussed immigrant problem — and the non- assimilation of the incomers. In fact, it is a casually dropped observation by Wallander himself that throws suspicion on immigrants for the murder that launches the book — and although the detective passionately argues against fanning the flames of racism, he realises in one of the very human moments that his creator frequently allows him that there is, perhaps, a mote in his own eye in this regard.

The White Lioness is one of Mankell's most original and distinctive books, weighing in at a hefty pages, but justifying its considerable length. A young housewife, well known for her work at the local Methodist church, has disappeared, and it falls to Kurt Wallander and his team to investigate. The detective quickly discovers that the events leading to the woman's disappearance have tendrils that stretch to far-away South Africa, and what comes to light is a tangled skein of malign human behaviour involving a murderous ex-KGB agent and renegade operatives of the South African Secret Service.

What's more, the stakes are of the highest: nothing less than a plot to stop the rise to power of Nelson Mandela. Even before the reader reaches the epilogue, written by Henning Mankell in the Mozambique in which he spends so much time, The White Lioness as will be apparent to even the most casual reader is one of the writer's most political novels, with personal testimony and the experiences of people he has met in Africa having a radical effect on the text here. But as so often with the writer's work, there is no sense of a doctrinaire agenda at work — whatever else readers choose to take from the book in terms of what it says about developments in modern South Africa, the crucial imperative here remains the solving of the mystery by the implacable Kurt Wallander.

The Redbreast bristles with a scarifying vision of Nordic fascism. At metres above sea level, Finse is at the highest point on the Norwegian railway system and presents a classic, isolated setting for its mayhem. A heavy snowstorm causes a train to derail and the passengers take shelter in an old hotel. By the next morning, one of them has been murdered. A locked room — or locked hotel — mystery like no other.

In this, the eighth Wallander novel, the detective moves into new area of crime: cyberspace. Various deaths have occurred: the user of a cash machine, a taxi driver killed by two young girls. This is the third Inspector Sejer novel and it looks at what happens in a community when a brutal crime takes place. After a woman is murdered outside her remote cabin in the countryside, suspicion immediately falls on a mentally ill man named Errki who has just escaped from an asylum. Retrieved 5 September The Economist. March 11, The Wall Street Journal. August 21, March 19, Emotions in Contemporary TV Series.

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New York: Palgrave Macmillan. The Guardian.

Retrieved Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. European Television Crime Drama and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.

Nordic Noir : The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film & TV

Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. A Companion to Nordic Cinema.


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