New Digs and Swedish Thrillers

Not to worry! I have not given up blogging. We are just moving to larger living quarters in Villeray, a mere three metro stops to the north of our current location. I am in the midst of changing my address, which will take me all of today, and probably a few more days when I remember all the essential organizations that I have forgotten. In addition, it seems that we are continually uncovering a new expense that we have to pay out of pocket. For instance, this morning we discovered that the person who surveyed our condo 12 years ago made a mistake in his calculations and to rectify the error we have to go through two levels of government and considerable expense.Oh the psychological and the physical joys of moving! Anyhoo!

Embellishment in Hall
Our new home is two floors in a triplex with a nice little backyard for my kids to play in and a nearly carless back alley. We've also discovered that the sidewalk in front of the house is large enough to play on, which is an added bonus. The building was constructed in 1928, and we've found plenty of remnants of previous tenants. What's more, parts of the basement and backstairs have a perfectly eerie feel to them, and I'm not the only one who has sensed this. I've seen my daughter venture halfway down the stairs only to run back up on more than one occasion. She found marks on the wall throughout the basement where someone had installed locks. Apparently, a previous tenant was afraid of being broken into and had locks installed everywhere. I had a little fun with my daughter and told her that he might have been locking someone...or something in.

On the topic of spooky, we have started a Swedish crime novel exchange this summer at work, which has been a lot of fun. Six of us have obtained copies of one or two thrillers from the Guardian's list of Sweden's best crime novels, compiled by the high priestess of crime writing herself, Camilla Lackberg. I've read four of the ten to date. A general remark: besides obviously taking place in Sweden, all four novels have at least one reference to IKEA. My favourite so far has been Sun Storm by Asa Larsson, the tax attorney-turned-crime writer. If you're looking for a page turner for the beach, pick up the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but make sure you get all three volumes because you won't have any peace until you've read them all. If you're packing light then pick up the Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell.

Here's the list:

1. The Mind's Eye by Håkan Nesser
2. Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman
3. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
4. Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson *My favourite so far. Tax attorney must return home to Sweden's far north and solve a murder among the criminally insane and religious fanatics. Apparently, the two go together....A read that will not disappoint you.
5. The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell *Excellent but not my favourite. Would Wallander just call Baiba damn it!
6. Unseen by Mari Jungstedt
7. Shame by Karin Alvtegen *My least favourite to date, but two of my colleagues really enjoyed this one. Shame is the story of two women living with shameful pasts, but I only found one of the characters interesting.
8. Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson *Excellent and well worth your entertainment dollar, but it could still stand a good edit. Far too much coffee drinking and repeated references to the heroine's small breasts.
10. Midvinterblod by Mons Kallentoft (not yet translated)


dredrouge | December 25, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Hey Twists and Turns! I've been meaning to comment on this installment of your blog for quite a while but just never got to it, please pardon the long delay. I'm writing here because I've got a real issue with Steig Larson's 'Girl' trilogy; it seems like much of the tone and action of 'Dragon Tatoo' in particular centers around a violent and repulsive act of rape....I don't know, haven't we as a culture been for too long bombarded with endless images of women as targets and brutalized victims? It seems that almost every single TV crime show opens with an obscene and perverted act committed on a (usually dead) woman's body. I am sickened that our culture considers this kind of unspeakable tragedy somehow titillating or entertaining and that it is so often used to sell books, films, and television shows. To sum up here: I'm not sure if Larson's books are really something new and different or just more of the same old sick schlock.

Heather | January 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Thanks for your comment. Indeed the feminist community is very divided on this trilogy. Yes, the rape and murder of women is a big part of the first installment. However, the female protagonist is quite a step away from any representation of women in mainstream pop culture. The girl with the dragon tattoo is the avenger of all these brutal slayings, and although she is the victim of abuse and rape herself, she exacts her own revenge. She uses her brains and her brawn to gain the both physical and psychological upper hand throughout the trilogy. H

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