The following article is the conclusion my Nordic Noir story… Sort of. I’ll be back with more, sooner or later. After my Scandinavian experience, I’m moving south — thanks to Susan Toy — to an Island in the Clouds, a Caribbean paradise, at least at first glance. Underneath its sunny, fragrant and alluring surface is a gallery of shady characters, a body floating in a pool, an impromptu investigator and his gorgeous girlfriend, to start with…
Why are Scandinavian mysteries so popular? For the North American readers, says one of the fans, “it’s delightful to read a crime novel in which the police are genuinely shocked by crime. So much of our crime and police fiction absolutely takes violence for granted…”
Part of the appeal lies in the main protagonists: these policemen, detectives, and inspectors are not macho-men in fancy clothes and expensive cars. They don’t chase super-terrorists and spies; and they don’t try to save the world. Only those around them: an abused women, a neglected child, a wrongly accused man. They don’t take the law into their own hands; the’re determined to bring killers, abusers and thieves to justice. They look like people we know and trust and we can easily imagine them working for our local police force. They are so ordinary, yet we can’t get enough of them.
Through their novels, the Scandinavian crime writers do not hesitate to confront some serious social problems: racism, extremism, family abuse, xenophobia, poverty… and the inefficiency of the state institutions to effectively deal with them. These books are not written for leisure reading only: they ask questions and question the answers; they make you get involved while reading, and leave you thinking long after you finish the last page. That’s why I like them: they let me participate. (2008)