Friday 25 August 2017

Recent Nordic Noir in Print and Television, Part Two: Finland

Ville Virtanen in a scene from the Finnish television series Bordertown, currently available on Netflix.

Part One of this piece, which looked at recent Icelandic work, was published here on August 8.

Readers of Nordic noir may not have had much exposure to Finnish authors writing in the genre. This may owe in part to the lack of English translations but the oversight is gradually being remedied. Kati Hiekkapelto is a Finnish writer whom I have recently encountered and based on her latest, The Exiled, the third book in her series about Anna Fekete, and her previous foray, The Defenceless (both published by Orenda Books in 2016 and 2015), she is a writer who will likely acquire a larger profile. I have not yet been able to access her debut novel, The Hummingbird.

Born in Serbia of Hungarian ethnicity, Anna Fekete, along with her mother and brother, decamps to Finland to escape the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Eventually, they return but Anna stays, becoming, like her late father, a detective in the Finnish police service. Her experience as an outsider growing up there gives her an unusual insight into the immigrant experience, a thread that is woven throughout the two novels under review. In The Exiled, Anna is on holiday visiting her family and friends in a Hungarian village in Serbia.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Recent Nordic Mysteries in Print and Television, Part I: Iceland

 This review that originally appeared in Critics at Large is reproduced on this site because crime involves crossing a dark line that potentially can result in the loss of one's humanity

A scene from the Icelandic television series Trapped, currently streaming on Netflix.

Arnaldur Indridason is one of the most acclaimed Icelandic writers of police procedurals for his novels about Detective Erlendur, a brooding, lonely officer who is tormented by ghosts from his past: the disappearance of his younger brother, a failed marriage and two children whose lives have been scarred by drugs. Fittingly, he investigates a number of cold cases and one his best, The Draining Lake (2009), begins with a discovery of a corpse that has a bullet in his head in a lake where the water level dropped in the wake of an earthquake. Erlendur’s investigation takes him back to the time of the Cold War when bright, left-wing students would be sent from Iceland to study in the “heavenly state” of Communist East Germany. Indridason has recently decided to put the Erlendur series in a deep freeze while he pursues another project.