In the High Peaks

Monday, August 22, 2011

Suckered into Another Scandinavian Mystery

I loathe my blog header today. First of all, a person is never "suckered into" a book. To be honest, I made a deliberate, face-forward choice to read the book in question and to continue reading it, and it's clear I won't stop reading until it's finished.

And I detest, I hate, I find loathsome the misnomer "Scandinavian mystery."

Why? Because I have discovered that each "Scandinavian nation" has its own literary identity, which flows through each author's work. Norwegian writers are very different from Swedish writers are very different from Danish writers, and all the way around. National identities do count, though it's true, a writer's personal identity always counts more, naturally. And Icelandic writers! Suffice it to say, they would have fits if anyone were to consider them "Scandinavian."

So what book is causing this agitated blog post? It's Call Me Princess by the Danish crime novelist Sara Blaedel. I believe Amazon has listed the book amongst its "Best of August" titles. This is Blaedel's first novel to be published in the US (Pegasus).

Before it appears that I am discrediting the novel, I must say that 1) I am turning the pages rapidly, 2) I am more than halfway through, and 3) I am intent on finishing it.

But! There are holes in the crime fiction elements that I could shove my fist through. It's not tight, as far as the police procedurals are concerned, and this aspect has me biting my lip at times. My conclusion: This book needed much more time in the editorial process. It has a good story line, good plot potential, but a few points needed resolution. The character development is fairly weak and the setting elements are minimal, but that's not unusual when it comes to detective fiction.

So, as you can see, I may have lost respect for myself by continuing to read it. Still, it is entertaining, and though it's 352 pages, it's going surprisingly quickly. The truth may be that I am becoming addicted to "Scandinavian" crime novels.


  1. I recently read two Danish crime novels, one is Mercy (US title Keeper of Lost Causes) by Jussi Adler-Olsson, which I enjoyed a great deal. A police procedural with a modern twist and plenty of humour and little social observations. The second just did not gel for me, a doorstop called Dinsoaur Feather by Sissal-Jo Gazan ("academic" murder mystery). Not sure whether to try this one or not based on your post! But I'll check it out. Like you, I think it is not useful to categorise books by country as if they were all the same. After all, we do not do it for Bret Easton Ellis and Edith Wharton, or Jane Austen and J K Rowling, do we? ;-)

  2. Hi. Thanks for the review, and this is from another "Scandinavian" crime addict. I hadn't heard of this one, so off I go to order it.

  3. Maxine,
    I'm noting the two Danish crime novels you've mentioned in my "WannaReads" file. But, you know, the "academic" murder mystery even sounds a bit intriguing, especially since I revolve in the academic world for 9 months of the year. And, since "crime fiction" is your professional specialty, you might want to test the waters with Call Me Princess. I would love to get your reaction, of course!

    Nancy, I've noted your blog and will tune in regularly. I'll be very interested to read what you make of Call Me Princess!

  4. This discussion is pushing me to get Mercy more quickly than I could at my library branch. Call Me Princess might drive me to distraction.

    I have a question though: In looking through the terrific list of books posted on the blog, I saw several which interest me, yet no reviews or comments linked in.

    Are the reviews or commentary for these books?


  5. Kathy,
    Thanks for posting a comment. You have asked a question that points to a crucial lack in my blog. Unfortunately, no, my list of books read in 2011 do not link to my comments about these books. I definitely must work on that. However, you might get a grasp on locating books by visiting my archives, which are listed directly below my list of "2010 Books Read."


  6. Thanks. I did scroll down within a few of the archives.
    Of all things, I found your post on Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer, both of whim I own and loved reading. I have Lacuna but couldn't get into it, will try again.
    Will check in frequently.