Saturday, 17 July 2021

Holt! Who Goes There?

Not a misprint- it's Anne Holt, Scandi crime writer. I am quite fond of detective stuff, and there has been some good Scandi stuff on TV. We've just watched the latest Beck on BBC4. Frustratingly the BBC site gives a link to the original 1960s radio plays - but they are not currently available to listen to. But you can watch the latest 4 Beck TV episodes on BBC i-Player.

I have not read any of the Beck stories, but I have read Jo Nesbo [Detective Harry Hole], Henning Mankel [Wallander] , and Stieg Larssen [Lisbeth Salander -The Girl With...] I did not know Ann Holt at all until May. I picked up one of her books in the Mobile Library Van. "Death of the Demon". It had a positive comment from Val McDermid on the back. [I like Val D, she's a knowledgeable woman and a good writer, so decided to try it] I really enjoyed it. It featured a detective, Hanne Wilhelmson

Then I found "What Dark Clouds Hide" - which is part of AH's other series. These are about a husband and wife team, Detective Adam Stubo and Johanne Vik [psychologist] It was the last in the series AS/JV series, but I managed to get hold of "Punishment" - the first of the 5, which helped set things into context. 

When the mobile library van returned last week [it broke down in June!] I stocked up on these - two Vik/Stubo, one Wilhelmsen [this latter is only half as thick as the others]. This is probably best defined as 'overkill' !!

Holt was formerly Minister Of Justice in Norway, and writes with an in depth knowledge of her subject. [I cannot imagine Liz Truss, or Michael Gove who have been MofJ in the UK producing literature of this quality!!] She has been writing for 30 years and is Norway's best-selling female crime writer.

She deftly breaks up the violent, challenging storylines with off-beat police procedurals, and the struggles of ordinary family life and relationships. And yes, her cops all have complicated back-stories, just like so many other fictional detectives.

The Norwich libraries seem well stocked with the books, so I should be able to work my way through them quite quickly. It seems bizarre to sit in the peaceful Norfolk sunshine reading of crimes in the Norwegian snows...

The Vik/Stubo series has been published under the overall title "Modus" and you may have caught some of that on TV a few years back in BBC4s Saturday night Eurocrime slot. 

If you like the other Nordic Noir writers, give these a go. Bob is sure Jo Nesbo is actually Welsh, and insists on pronouncing his name "Jones Bo" - and by the way the JN website says Harry Hole is pronounced with the o as in pool, and the e as in ethnic. Harry Hool-e! So now you know.

Sunday Night: watch out for Professor T, the Belgian detective, in a new series on ITV starring Ben Miller [this time in English, and not subtitled] and French detective Baptiste returns on BBC


  1. Thanks for the information about Ann Holt. It's always good to find a "new" author. Val McDermid is a favourite and I recently read her non-fiction book on Forensics, which is just as much a page turner as her fiction!

  2. Glad to find a recommendation for a new-to-me author, thank you. Our library has a good selection too & I've reserved the first in two of the series. (I've held back on the AS/JV series for now - although they sound interesting characters - as I sometimes find books about child deaths/abductions rather unsettling)

    1. I understand your unease. I often read the passages describing "the gory bits" quickly. And when watching TV I look down and concentrate on my knitting! This technique is not so good when it's a Eurocrime and I need to read the subtitles to keep up with plot.

  3. I really enjoyed (though I'm not sure that's the word) Val McD's "The Skeleton Road" - it's a stark reminder of the threads attaching us to the past. My favourite scandi-noir series has to be The Bridge, but we've enjoyed The Killing, Wallender, and various others. Though last night, I was reduced to asking Mr FD which countries they've all been set in. I think we're only missing Finland from the Scandinavian countries now!
    Another interesting series, thpough not so much crime based as politics is Borgen. Dirty machinations in Danish (Swedish?) politics.
    We also enjoy spot the actor ("Wasn't he the teacher in Rita...Wasn't she the opposition leader in Borgen...?)

  4. I am a big fan of Yrsa Sigarsdotter (?) and Icelandic author that I discovered on a trip to the island. She has a couple of different series plus stand along books. She also wrote the second season of "Trapped" a series on Netflix and I believe one of her series is being developed for TV


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