In search of the next Stieg Larsson
Summer is the perfect time for an engrossing international thriller, but how do you top "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"?
Not so long ago, the concept of a Scandinavian thriller seemed rather exotic. Today, however, with The New York Times reporting that Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy – including "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire," and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" – has sold 6 million copies in the United States and 35 million copies worldwide, nothing could seem more mainstream.Skip to next paragraph
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But now here comes the summer – season of the thriller – and there are no more Larsson titles to follow. (The Swedish journalist died shortly before the publication of his books.) And the big question seems to be: Where will readers turn after the Millennium trilogy?
The New York Times and The Washington Post have both suggested Scandinavian alternatives, including fellow Swedish authors Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell, Norwegian writers Jo Nesbø and Karin Fossum, and Iceland's Arnalder Indridason.
But it doesn't necessarily follow that all readers of mysteries will want to remain in Arctic climes this summer. The Scandinavian offerings are "all usually placed in cold, dark, wintry settings, with people drinking a lot to keep warm," editor and mystery bookstore owner Otto Penzler told The Washington Post. "There's the general gloominess of the people, who seem resigned to the worst thing happening. There's not much humor. There certainly are no Carl Hiaasens or Elmore Leonards."
Maybe that's why NPR – even while conceding that this is "the summer of the Swede" – is suggesting that readers will want to "take a brief mental health break from those gloomy Swedes with their hard-to-pronounce-names, and celebrate some fine recently published mysteries a little closer to home."