TELEVISIONWe're hanging out (July 2017) for a new Scandinavian crime series on SBS, following The Killing, The Bridge, The Tunnel etc but in a Guardian article, Mark Lawson suggests "As European broadcasters team up to create ever more silly fusion cop shows, a beloved genre has gone from thriller to bland filler in just six years," and that Scandi Noir is dead. I agree with him that Midnight Sun was really stupid with a Swedish half-Sami detective and a French detective of Morrocan birth working on a bizarre murder. How many issues can you cover and still tell a story worth watching?
Aurelio Zen was on ABC TV in Jan-Feb 2012. How much we enjoyed watching this handsome, stylish Italian detective. Zen was cool and suave and the stories interesting with the added bonus of a beautiful Roman background. Apparently the executives said there were already too many detectives on TV, and cancelled the Zen series. It was great viewing without excessive angst and emphasis on the detective's singular musical taste.
The Bill: sadly missed on Saturday nights.
Private detectives; Female detectives; Male detectives.
Wikipedia American Crime shows on TV; World crime shows.
Australian TV Cop shows.
The Thrilling Detective Website. A huge list of TV detectives including the first private eye show on TV that I remember, 77 Sunset Strip 1958-1964.
DETECTIVE AND MYSTERY FILMSMovie detectives.
Garfield in Babes and Bullets, featuring Garfield as tough detective, Sam Spayed, Chandler style. You get the story, not just the titles, but it's in Spanish
NOVELISTSJean-Luc BANNALEC: Read Death in Brittany May, 2020. It's a charming detective novel set in Brittany in France. Much is made of the beautiful scenery and unique Breton character. Only tantalising glimpses are given about the personal life of enigmatic Commissaire Dupin. I'll be looking for more in this series.
Raymond CHANDLER; Hard boiled Chandler slang - Hamlet can be done Chandler style.
Tracer BULLET detective Calvin with his side kick Hobbes. Hard to find cartoons of Calvin as a detective-this is a great version.
Lee CHILD: fast paced, action packed thrillers starring Jack Reacher. Saw Lee Child on the ABC's Book show and the other panelists were so patronising to him-obviously infuriating him. I love the no nonsense attitude of Reacher though no one could enjoy travelling America like he does, staying at cheap motels and eating at rough food joints. I'm not sure if Child has tried that lifestyle but you couldn't keep it up for long.
Harlan COBEN: exciting thrillers - His Five currently a gripping TV series (7/2017)
Michael CONNELLY: crime novels are well written and exciting.
Michelle DAVIES: Gone Astray read Feb 2018. Fast moving and realistic, when a 15 year old daughter of lottery winners is kidnapped.
Joel DICKER: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair read Mar 2018. This was an unputdownable book that kept me guessing to the end. The story itself was weird when you thought about it afterwards, but the characters seemed real.
Sue GRAFTON: author of the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series. I've still got the one I borrowed gratefully from our hotel in St Petersburg in 2005. I left 2 replacement novels and a pair of shoes. They are set in Santa Barbara (not officially) which we visited in 2010. It is a sensational place with a glorious beachfront and jetty and an unimaginably long and glamorous shopping street.
Sadly, Sue Grafton died of cancer in Santa Barbara on 28-12-2017. Her last novel was Yesterday so she didn't quite complete the alphabet.
Andrew GROSS: Read 15 Seconds Jan 2018. Truly a can't-put-down thriller with great setting in deep south of US. The opening scenario is frighteningly possible.
Dashiell HAMMETT: the detective writer who turned a pulp genre into literature.
David HEWSON: various European settings. Read 2/2018 The Flood set in Florence. Enjoyable with interesting characters and good food information. He also wrote The Killing which was made into a popular Danish crime show.
Reginald HILL: novels featuring popular Dalziel and Pascoe - the basis for the TV series.
Peter James: read Feb 2019 You Are Dead and Need You Dead. They are exciting and fast paced police procedurals but the back story of policeman, Roy Grace, is becoming increasingly absurd and I won't be reading any more. Grace has just taken charge of his 9 year old son after the death of his first wife who disappeared and hasn't been heard of for 10 years-without any kind of DNA test. In a new marriage with a baby son, he has obviously taken into his home a trainee serial killer who has disposed of the family dog of the people who were caring for him and is now leaving deadly spiders in the crib of his tiny new 'brother.'
J.A. JANCE: Cold Betrayal read April, 2018. Another novel based around polygamy in a break away sect of the Mormon church. Interesting, because we travelled in the area and stayed at Kingman. Fast paced.
Jonathan KELLERMAN: psychological crime investigation.
Philip KERR: A Quiet Flame set in Nazi Germany and Argentina after the war is absorbing, Sept 2016. Although I am not a fan of flashbacks, the historical context is very interesting.
Adrian McKINTY I Hear the Sirens in the Street read Aug, 2019, one of a series featuring Det Sgt Sean Duffy in Northern Ireland during the sectarian troubles of the 1980s. He recreates the time well. Born in N. ireland, the author now lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Graham MASTERTON: Oct, 2018. He writes horror, sex manuals and crime novels. Red Light was an excellent look at crime and sex trafficking in Cork, Ireland, starring Detective Katie Maguire. His website is bad, unless you like small pale writing on black backgrounds.
Michael PALMER: stomach-clenching medical thrillers. Sadly, Michael Palmer died in 2013 but his son, Daniel, seems to be keeping the brand going.
Sara PARETSKY: Author of VI Warshawski novels.
Louise PENNY: Dead Cold, read Sept, 2013. Set in a small Canadian village near Quebec-painfully folksy.
Ian RANKIN: Standing in Another Man's Grave. Read May 2013. I loved Rebus on TV but some of the more recent novels were too miserable. This one is about serial murder but without excessive murderous detail. The prose is crisp and fresh and Rebus is more under control. I couldn't put it down. Even if you have to create tension, however, I could do without the endless smoking and particularly without the flicking of cigarette butts everywhere. And why is every UK fictional detective obsessed by some kind of music, be it classical, jazz or whatever?
On our day from hell in Edinburgh, we happened to be there quite by chance when the Festival, Fringe, Writers' Week and the Tattoo were on, and were marooned in the city, unable to find where the bus left from to take us back to our car parked about 15 kms away because they'd closed streets all over the place without putting up any signs saying where the buses were now relocated. I was in agony with feet so sore I could hardly walk and we couldn't find anyone who actually lived there to direct us. We eventually found the bus after Peter reconnoitred without me, and then I still had a long and painful hobble.
When Rankin says, "The traffic in Edinburgh was indeed a nightmare. Temporary lights, road closures, diversions. Long tailbacks everywhere. Most of it to accommodate the construction of a single tramline between airport and city centre," he is telling the complete truth and the lady on the bus who told us about it was very bitter too. It has been going on for years, she said. But that kind of detail really makes the novel. A great website too.
Kathy REICHS: Extreme forensic pathology.
Nury VITTACHI: the Feng Shui detective. A great idea but I have only found a selection of short stories involving a 17 year-old side kick, so far.
Qiu XIAOLONG author of Death of a Red Heroine Read April 2013. It is the first in a series of novels involving Inspector Chen in Shanghai. There is wonderful detail of recent Chinese history and lifestyle and an interesting murder/mystery investigation. I'll be looking for the rest at the library.
AUSTRALIAN AUTHORSCarter BROWN; Carter Brown covers; and Hard-boiled pulp fiction. I remember these A5 sized detective stories in my older brother's bookcase but sadly I don't have any now. June 2021-found a dilapidated Carter Brown in a street library and was quite shocked by the explicit, no-nonsemse references to sex. Didn't realise they were THAT graphic!
Peter CORRIS: featuring Sydney PI, Cliff Hardy. Had another look July 2017 but found it dull.
Jane CLIFTON: Australian actress and author of 3 crime novels.
Gary DISHER: SA born author with angst ridden Inspector Hal Challis and irritating Wyatt novels, but I loved Bitter Wash Road.
Kathryn FOX: terrific forensic novels with tense plots covering all the current issues. Better than any I've read recently. Growing up in Adelaide during the 60s and 70s made her aware of life's sinister side. (10/2014)
Maggie GROFF wrote Good News, Bad News which I finished Jan 2018. As one review said, it is a mixture of chic lit and crime novel, set in Byron Bay. It was a good, fast moving story and would make an excellent film with good looking people in the starring roles, hopefully.
Jane HARPER: Just read The Dry, July 2016, a debut novel. Suddenly the penny dropped. We have our own noir and it is a growing genre. I'm going to call it Sun Noir as it's set in hot, dry places. It is still gloomy mystery and murder and the setting plays just as big a part as does the dark and cold of Scandinavia. It goes a long way back, to Picnic at Hanging Rock and Wake in Fright, books and films, now I think of it. Lantana was another great Australian movie where the location was a major element. Her second novel, Force of Nature didn't impress as much and nor did the 3rd, The Lost Man but it got better as it went along.
I see great potential for literary tourism!
Katherine HOWELL writes exciting crime novels based on her past experience as a paramedic. Just read Tell the Truth, 17-5-2020, part of the Detective Ella Marconi series, and Silent Fear in June, 2021 is very good.
Gabrielle LORD: absorbing adult tales following fabulous teen novels.
Emily MAGUIRE: Sept 2018 read An isolated Incident, set in country NSW about the murder of a sweet girl and the effect it has on her sister and town. Interesting detail in a down to earth style.
Geoffrey McGEACHIN: The Diggers Rest Hotel, set in rural Victoria just after WW2. Great historical detail about army camps and war preparation in Australia and interesting characters, 01/2019. Read Black Wattle Creek on 23-3-2020. It moved along at a good speed but the war flashbacks became tiresome. Good use of detail with brand names I remember but that too was a little irritating after a while-Bex, Nugget, Jonny Walker Whiskey, Lucky Strikes, Fag lolly smokes, The Truth etc.
Stephen ORR: just read his Time's Long Ruin based on the disappearance of the Beaumont children in Adelaide, which also influenced Kathryn Fox, above. It recreates life in early 1960s Adelaide and is sad, atmospheric and beautiful, 10/2014.
Caroline OVERINGTON: Read the ones you trust (all lower case) 25-4-2019. I am not a fan of lower case or journalists from The Australian newspaper with its right wing bias and hatred of teachers. I often see Caroline Overington on ABC's 'The Drum', however, so I tried this fast moving book, and as the cover suggested, the household jobs I needed to do didn't get done.
Anna SNOEKSTRA: Little Secrets, psychological crime fiction. It had the same thrill for me as Jane Harper's The Dry, in terms of location and complex characters but I felt there were a few missing links, plot wise and logic wise. I see it got rave reviews to bad reviews but I couldn't put it down, 4/2019.
Peter TEMPLE: born 1946, South Africa, died 2018, Ballarat. Great Australian crime fiction with very real protagonists. His dismissal of "old women in sandals" pretty much sums up society's attitude to older women. Several novels made into movie length TV shows, in 2012. The Jack Irish TV series in March, 2016 has driven me crazy. A dishevelled Guy Pearce in dirty, ugly clothes and an uneven, blotchy grey beard slops around the place and we are expected to think that women find him attractive and fall into bed with him. Not to mention that he is not very energetic in solving crimes. In 2018 TV he has looked a little better in terms of clothing, but that unshaven fuzz is annoying. Can we please have some good looking and neatly dressed detectives? Let's face it, part of the pleasure of fictional characters is that they CAN be attractive.
SCANDINAVIAN NOIRScandinavian crime fiction.
Jussi ADLER OLSEN is Danish, another in the noir genre. The violence is very extreme but the characters so engaging and details so real that you find yourself reading bits out to your husband in bed at night. That's a good book. (3/2013)
Samuel BJØRK I'm Travelling Alone is a thriller you can't put down (July 2017) set in Norway. It has a cast of thousands and the lead female detective is irritating, but the story moves along well and the serial killings at least make some sense, in a mad way.
Elsebeth EGHOLM Three Dog Night read Feb 2018. A Danish author with a great deal of interesting and authentic Danish location and cultural detail together with suitably angst ridden characters and a good plot. I liked it very much.
Arnaldur INDRADASON is Icelandic and there is the same sense of location in Outrage published 2011, as there is in the Wallender series of Henning Mankell, but I liked it more. It went straight to the investigation without the tiresome baggage of British crime series. (The endless references to music in the latest Inspector Banks were irritating and repetitive.) Perhaps this may happen with these Icelandic novels, but I suspect not. In Outrage the detective has written a cookery book and the detail about Icelandic diet was very interesting. Apparently it is the 9th in a series of novels and I have ordered as many as are available at the local library. (Sept 2011)
Mons KALLENTOFT is a Swedish novelist. I read Summertime Death in Dec, 2018. The setting and atmosphere are typical Scandi noir with all the interesting street and area names. The story is bloodthirsty and the police seem rather ineffective but it moves along well. I hated the narrative from the dead victims and left most of that out. The repetition was annoying but the hot summer and bushfires created a convincing scenario..
Camilla LäCKBERG Crime novels set in country Sweden, with great atmosphere. Feb 2017-Just read The Ice Child. The story is engrossing but the violence is bizarre and extreme and I am getting sick of all the complications in the lives of the police characters in this genre. I nearly gave up but wanted to see what happened in the end. That is probably the last Lackberg I will read and Jo Nesbbø is off my reading list as well. A detective who is happily married, gets on with his/her children and sleeps occasionally would be a welcome change in crime fiction, as would be some less gruesome murders.
Stieg LARSSON was a Swedish crime novelist who died in 2004. Apparently he died intestate and as a result of Swedish law his estranged father and brother have inherited his estate, leaving his partner of 30 years with almost nothing. His books have been made into movies which we have enjoyed in the original Swedish with subtitles, but they've also been made in English. Most people are now familiar with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, a very dark depiction of Sweden.
Henning MANKELL's Kurt Wallander is a dour Swedish (fictional) detective from Ystad in Sweden. We visited the town after crossing to Sweden via the bridge from Copenhagen. Wallander is a tourist industry in Ystad (pictured left). The author lived nearby some of the time and the show is made in Ystad. We checked out a few of the locations mentioned in the novels and TV series, which was shown with subtitles on SBS in Australia, including the town square, the hotel and a favourite cafe but didn't get to do the fire engine tour as it was only in Swedish. Newspaper headlines (photo taken by me) and pictures showed that Kenneth Branagh is playing Wallander in an English version TV series which we have seen now, but don't like as much as the original Swedish version. So far we have seen Wallender episodes part filmed in a hotel where we ate, the town square where we listened to music and the beach where we went for a walk near the colourful beach huts. We also drove around the "police station." I'm sorry we didn't stay longer in Ystad but the Swedes don't overwhelm with friendliness. In 1976 I was amazed by all the blondes on the ferry from Denmark but this time the blonde hair was grey and the manner aloof. Still, it was a gorgeous and historic town with beautiful old buildings. I was nearly a manslaughter victim myself at our hotel-opened the door and the floor inside was a 10 cm drop. I went flying but landed on the bed.
Liza MARKLUND is a Swedish author. I read The Bomber which was terrific-lots of suspense with a mostly realistic story line, though I find it hard to believe that everyone in Sweden is as overworked as they appear to be in all their novels. They all seem to have trouble with finding time to shower, eat and look after their children!
Jo NESBØ is a great Norwegian writer of crime fiction. We saw him at the Adelaide Writers' Festival in 2012. He said that he tries to think of the most horrible things that could possibly ever happen and then make them much worse. I wish he'd ease up on this a bit as I generally have to leave out large sections of his novels-too much emphasis on violence and horror. I'm not sure why there is so much of that among Scandinavian writers since they seem fairly law abiding societies, on the whole.
Håkan NESSER is a Swedish author and a former teacher. I've only read Hour of the Wolf so far and thought it was good as a police procedural but lacked that intense sense of place which has made other Scandinavian novels I've read so interesting. I was delighted to see more emphasis on why and how rather than the wallowing in extreme violence.
TV-There are some terrific, though violent, Scandinavian noir TV series that we have enjoyed recently including The Bridge , Follow the Money, Spring Tide and Midnight Sun.
CRIME FICTION GUIDESEuro crime: compact reviews of a crime fiction.
Ultimate Mystery/Detective Web Guide-very old but still a lot there.
NON FICTION CRIME FIGHTING ORGANISATIONSSouth Australian Police
Australian Federal Police.
Established Oct 2003. Links checked 9-08-2019. Trying to be consistent with layout of book titles-italics 2021