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. I hope that someone else has the good taste to take them on because it was great viewing, and we don't have to put up with all the angst and classical music which is becoming all too prevalent in detective fiction.
The Bill: sadly missed on Saturday nights.
PBS TV: featuring many British mystery series.
American detectives and private investigators in TV and movies.
American Crime shows on TV.
Wikipedia links to 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.
Private eye movies.
NOVELISTSRaymond 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.
Harlan Coben: exciting thrillers - His Five currently a gripping TV series (7/2017)
Michael Connelly's crime novels are well written and exciting.
Dashiell Hammett: the detective writer who turned a pulp genre into literature.
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-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.
Reginald Hill: novels featuring popular Dalziel and Pascoe - the basis for the TV series.
Jonathan Kellerman: psychological crime investigation. His wife, Faye Kellerman, also writes thrillers but the unrelenting emphasis on Jewishness is wearing-a little more subtlety required.
Philip Kerr's A Quiet Flame set in Nazi Germany and Argentina after the war is absorbing (16/9/2016). Although I am not a fan of flashbacks, the historical context is very interesting.
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's homepage. Author of VI Warshawski.
Louise Penny Dead Cold, read Sept, 2013. Set in a small Canadian village near Quebec-painfully folksy.
Ian Rankin's Standing in Another Man's Grave (12/5/2013). 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 (22/4/2013). 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.
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)
Gabrielle Lord: absorbing adult tales following fabulous teen novels.
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)
Peter Temple: 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 latest Jack Irish 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.
July 2016: Just read The Dry a debut novel by Jane Harper. Suddenly the penny has dropped. We have our own noir and it is a growing genre. I'm going to call it Sol 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 now I think of it. Lantana was another great Australian movie where the location was a major element. Gary Disher's Bitter Wash Road, is fantastic-set in rural South Australia, not far from Adelaide. And we saw Goldstone at the movies recently. That's set in Queensland, apparently, but it could be anywhere north of Port Augusta. I see great potential for literary tourism! N.B. Movie makers may be aiming at realism in this genre, but the unrelenting ugliness of unshaven men in dirty clothes and greasy, stringy hair is very unappealing-especially in the heat and dirt. Can we please have some good looking detectives. Let's face it, part of the pleasure of fictional characters is that they CAN be attractive. I hear the last Kenneth Branagh Wallender is coming up. I fear he may once again be dirty, unshaven, sleepless and without decent food. If I wanted all the ugliness of daily life I wouldn't read fiction.
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's I'm Travelling Alone is a thriller you can't put down (29/7/2017) 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.
Arnaldur Indridason 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. (9/2011)
Camilla Läckberg Crime novels set in country Sweden, with great atmosphere. 13/2/2017-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-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 GUIDESTangled Web: a comprehensive British site promoting crime writing with a huge list of authors.
Euro crime: compact reviews of a crime fiction.
Mystery Net with activities for kids. 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 31-7-2017.