Done with the Bloody Danes
It’s 2pm on a holiday weekend afternoon. I’ve just launched a new travel blog (Social Studies for Adults: a Travel Blog at nesetm.com) and am having a Blue Moon or two to celebrate. Then I must vacuum—of such diversity is life made!
Meanwhile I’ve committed to a 365 blog finishing up Crime/Denmark today and I’m only halfway through the second book about which I intended to write. Wish I had a lot of photos of Copenhagen I could post instead…but can’t find any. That is a sad travel commentary. I must pay better attention.
We were trying to figure out what makes Carl Mørck Danish in manner and appearance. No conclusion really except that he is attractive if a little rough around the edges. In the book I’m currently reading, “A Conspiracy of Faith,” the sexy shrink finally spent the night with him so I guess it’s safe to describe him as weather-beaten but hot?
A few words about the middle book of the Department Q trilogy (so far) which I read a week or so ago. “The Absent One.” Basically it is the story of a gang of extremely unappealing, can we just say sick/disgusting/frightening/creepy former boarding school students, one (the girl) of whom escapes and seeks revenge on the others for some horrific acts from the past. There are country estates and a whole lot of exotic animals involved. Mørck and his trusty sidekick, Assad, have numerous hits and misses on the way to solving the case but it ends relatively well …of course…there are many more tales from Department Q in our futures.
What makes Adler-Olsen’s books so popular is partly standard stuff (scruffy hero, chilly atmospherics) and partly Adler-Olsen’s original villains. I am thinking that Scandinavian crime fiction is such a prime commodity right now that it must be extremely difficult to get in on the action. However this guy has elbowed in there with the granddaddies of them all (at least in this new wave of northern noir): Henning Mankell of Sweden first; followed closely by Stieg Larsson, also Swedish and Jo Nesbo of Norway. Henning Mankell has concluded his Kurt Wallander series and Stieg Larsson is dead so it seems that Jo Nesbo and Jussi Adler-Olsen may be battling it out for top spot right now.
Let me say they are not my favorites although I enjoy them immensely. These two are a little less psychologically oriented and a little more blood-and-guts than the best—in my humble opinion. In fact the Scandinavian women may be in the process of out-writing the boys but that’s another blog or two.
Back to Adler-Olsen. The pleasures (in order of importance) of the three: “The Keeper of Lost Causes,” ‘The Absent One,” and “A Conspiracy of Faith” include funny/sarcastic/befuddled/independent-to-the-nth-degree Carl Mørck; cleverly introduced and painstakingly described villains (in fact we get to spend almost too much time with them); and plot lines that have enough complications to keep us guessing. Since we know the identities of the bad guys from the beginning, the suspense lies largely in whether the victims we’ve come to like (a littlle) can be rescued in time.
The first two books have dangerously wild and grandly original finales so I am assuming “A Conspiracy of Faith” will as well. As you might have guess from the title religion figures prominently in this one and I am astounded by how many religious cults exist in rationalist Denmark. Also in “A Conspiracy of Faith” Mørck gets yet one more wacky impertinent assistant which further enlivens life in Department Q’s basement home.
Go to http://scandinavianbooks.com/crime-fiction/danish-crime-book.html for information about a few other Danish crime fiction writers. I think I wrote something about “The Boy in the Suitcase” awhile ago even though the book wasn’t one of my favorites. One the other hand “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” was a brilliant book and definitely worth buying. Enough with the Danes…on to Iceland.