Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Mayhem in Stockholm: Read Box 21

Who’da thunk it? Would you have guessed that normal everyday Americans would be throwing around names like Dag, Dragan, Jerker, Piet,and Lisbeth. “Yes, I remember when Sven saw Jochum in Kronoberg (or was it Klaipeda?)” Swedish crime fiction is hot. And not just Stieg Larsson and his “Girl Who…” series. There’s Hakan Nesser, Camilla Lackberg, Kjell Ericksson, the venerable Henning Mankell and more every second week. (Just check the Minuteman catalog for the subject “Sweden—Fiction” or keywords “Sweden and mystery.”) Box 21 was written by a Swedish writing duo, one of whom is a journalist, the other an ex-criminal. Roslund and Hellstrom set a gritty noir scene, peopled by sex traffickers, dope addicts, corrupt cops, mob enforcers and a few hardworking detectives, who themselves have demons to fight. Ewert Grens is the senior investigator, a brilliant detective but haunted by the assault decades earlier which left his partner Anni brain-damaged and virtually unresponsive in a nursing home. Grens (a crusty and cranky old fellow) and his team have to deal with multiple crimes involving an abused prostitute, her plans for revenge and the murder of a drug addict by the very same man responsible for Anni’s condition. Box 21 kept me up late reading, and I think it will do the same to you.

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