Anders Monsen

Lost worlds and ports of call

Month: October 2014

Library additions

Along with the four Henning Mankell books pictured here, all with a curiously similar cover design, I’ve bought four other Mankell novels, six Per Wahloo (and Maj Sjowall) novels, two Asa Larrson novels, five by Jo Nesbø, a couple of P.D. James books (one fiction, one non-fiction), a Patricia Highsmith classic, and a detective book by the 2014 Nobel Literature Prize winner: the French writer, Patrick Modiano.

Scandinavian crime landscapes

Scandinavian crime landscapes

I haven’t read all the books yet. Nesbø has a cinematic and kinetic style, steeped in Hollywood. His anti-hero is dark, bitter, unlikeable. Mankell is more sedate, his main character morose but not as bitter and self-destructive as Nesbø’s Harry Hole. I’m still reading Asa Larrson, and don’t yet have a feel for her main characters yet. I know the Highsmith novel will annoy me, because the main character is a conman, a crook, a swindler. I haven’t read James in well over a decade, but I used to like her books. Wahloo and Sjowall come highly recommended, and I look forward to reading their books.

Revisiting crime fiction

Growing up in the 1980s I read fiction across all genres. A teenager at the time, I read my own books, but also read as many books as possible from my parents’ shelves. This included thrillers like Alistair MacLean, Hammond Innes, Wilbur Smith, crime writers like Ed McBain and Agatha Christie, along with a host of names long since forgotten.

The past two decades I’ve generally not read much crime fiction, with the exception of the Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen. He lives and writes about Bergen, a place I lived a few years, and where I have roots. The names of other crime/mystery writers slide past my consciousness, but I tended to either read science fiction or American novels from the early twentieth century.

A couple of years ago I read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, like so many others. This year I picked up a couple of Ian Rankin books, and once again I feel the strong pull of crime fiction. Oddly enough, I’m reading quite a few Scandinavian and European books, from Rankin to Andrea Camilleri, to Jo Nesbø to Asa Larsson, along with other Swedish writers like Henning Mankel and Per Wahlöö.

I have yet to dive into American crime fiction, but I have list of names, most of them authors I’ve never read, which I think is an exciting prospect.

There used to be a book store in San Antonio called “Remember the Alibi.” I find it tragic that this store is gone, but even more so now that I’m re-discovering this genre.

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