Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweden's private eye novels

Anders Engwall, from Sundsvall, Sweden, commented a bit about the lack of private eyes in Finland, and it occurred me to ask him about fictional private eyes in Sweden. Here's his comment:

There have been at least two hardboiled PI series in Sweden, if you include investigative journalists among PIs. I can't recall any novels about professional private detectives at all.

Anders Jonason wrote three novels about journalist Dick Mattsson between 1953 and 1959. There was also a fourth crime novel in 1963 about a different journalist.

Jonason also translated many novels, perhaps most notably among them Charles Willeford's Hoke Mosely series. That makes Jonason the only one who has ever translated Willeford into Swedish.

Christer Nygren wrote a series of I believe eight novels about journalist Tommy Westfelt from 1986 until 1998. These are all set in my home town Sundsvall, except that's never stated openly in the books. For us who know the local geography it's obvious, though, and a fun bonus.

These two series are the only I can think of at the moment, unless you also count the well known but rather semi-boiled Harry Friberg series written Stieg Trenter between ca 1943 and 1966. Friberg was not a journalist, but close - a news photographer.

Come to think of it, there are preciously few Swedish hardboiled books at all outside of police procedurals. I have heard good things about the recent Snabba cash by Jens Lapidus, though. Then again, I have read excerpts from it and my initial thought was that short sentences alone certainly does not make you the Scandinavian James Ellroy. I.e. I was not impressed.

Here are a few links to brush up your Swedish.

We got to talk more about the matter over Facebook and here's his additional comment:

Of the Stieg Trenter titles I have only read Roparen. It was years ago, but as I recall it was a solid, competent medium-boiled whodunnit (wow, how is that for non-committal?). I remember I really enjoyed the 1980s TV series based on some of his books, though.

One promising thing I forgot is that we recently have had two translations of Jim Thompson published by two different publishers. This lot has THE GRIFTERS and Anthony Neil Smith:

These guys published THE KILLER INSIDE ME and are also about release THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley:


Anders E said...

While I may have referred to Sundsvall as my home town, I nowadays reside in Uppsala. Which happens to be Donald Hamilton's birth town, btw.

And as I later had to admit, Anders Jonason translated all the Hoke Mosely novels - except SIDESWIPE.

Juri said...

Sorry, Anders, I wasn't clearly paying an attention.

Anders E said...

At least I got the opportunity to brag about that Donald Hamilton connection.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Liza Marklund is not exactly hard-boiled, but it is still interesting that Sweden seems to have a something of a tradition of journalists as crime-fiction protagonists.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Anders E said...

Here's a somewhat related link. Seems like Swedish crime fiction is doing very well in France.

(in Swedish, I'm afraid)