The VF Daily blog at Vanity Fair has a pithy summary by Christopher Tennant of the candidates for the title of “Next Stieg Larsson,” a creeping phrase against which crime fans have had to innoculate ourselves this year.
Five authors are compared across the categories of grizzled-ness of protagonist, gloominess of setting, the sales statistics most cited in their PR, adaptations for film and television, and the money quotes pronouncing their coronation as the “Next Stieg Larsson.”
Well, I have a small quibble with the list and a larger one. The article’s titled Stockholm Syndrome, and 2 of the 5 authors aren’t Swedish. Jo Nesbo fights as the crime champ of Norway, and the excellent Arnaldur Indridason slings his words from Iceland. But, tiny nit now picked:
Where is Lars Kepler? Granted, the author’s debut, The Hypnotist, is just coming out in the U.S. this month, but early copies have been circulating, and it’s already been a bestseller in France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and Holland. I’m jumping ahead in the categories, I know, but the novel was such a sensation that the clamor around its pseudonymous author finally outed married couple Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril as its writers. And what about the rest of the criteria?
Detective Inspector Joona Linna isn’t so much grizzled as haunted, but close enough. The crime occurs in Tumba, Sweden. Bonus for snowfall at night as, in the opening scenes, the titular and reluctant hypnotist, Dr. Erik Maria Bark, drives to the hospital to see a shredded boy, the only survivor of a violent attack that eviscerated his father, his mother, and the younger of his sisters. Seems properly exploratory of the darker side of human nature. As to adaptations, Svensk Studio bought the option and is making the movie, and the very question of being the NSL is bandied in The Independent’s review by Barry Forshaw, which says:
The sobriquet “the next Stieg Larsson” is again being thrown about in connection with Lars Kepler. But can Lars cut the mustard? Just a few pages of The Hypnotist (in Ann Long’s translation) quickly puts paid to the accusation of hype; this is commanding, and deeply scarifying stuff.
I’m only partway through the advance copy myself, but I have to say, from the first few paragraphs, this one grabbed hold and started dragging me under. I’m not coming up for air until I’m through with it. Though the slick plot moves quickly, there are plenty of human grace notes. Linna isn’t a robot, and there’s a use of descriptive language that’s as poetic as economical. Extra gruesome, well perhaps, but elegantly done, and that only makes The Hypnotist more chilling.
I think this list of the “Stockholm” 5 ought to be the Scandinavian 6.
Image via Nordic Bookblog.