Swedish Noir started its march into popular translation with the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. I never got into that series, but Arne Dahl came with the endorsement of Warren Ellis. Though Dahl writes police procedurals, the prose is compelling and filled with the sort of melancholy you get living in a place that's dark for two straight months.
The UK and the US might look fondly on the ’90s, Sweden was in the hangover of an economic crash. It seems that Dahl chooses to set the story here for a few different reasons, but mainly because it was an era full of change. Hjelm is a cop that doesn't know himself, doesn't know his wife, and is adrift. When he shoots a man holding an immigration office hostage, he ends up on the outs with the police force too.
Ten pages into the book and you're already dealing with a refugee crisis, as well as the not so subtle racism hiding out in Sweeden’s finest. Hjelm explains how he was helping, but everyone suspects him of harboring secret motives. Before he can be fired, he’s whisked off to join a new unit of the national police.
The motley crew of outcasts and misfits are assembled to catch a killer shooting his way through the upper crust of society. They chase down everyone from Russian Smugglers to a sexually harassed caddy on a golf course. This array of suspects manages to guide us through an exploration of Swedish society and how quickly it was changing.
Alongside that, we get an amusing array of characters, all with their quirks and personalities. It isn't surprising that the series was developed into a television show. This isn't your usual set of tired stereotypes; each has something you wouldn't get in an American procedural. I’m not going to get too deep into each of them, as getting to know them is part of the book’s charm.
It's a mix of standard thriller fare mixed with prose that keeps you moving through the book. The forays into the national consciousness of Sweden and existential angst keep the characters grounded and real. It is not surprising that this was turned into a BBC show. Dahl is a smart writer that adds depth to a genre that usually doesn't bother. The two titles thing is a UK/US thing. The US title, Misterioso is the original title, though in UK it is called The Blinded Man. I had a UK copy, but as far as I can research there's no other differences.
Rants and Reviews. Mostly just BS and Affiliate Links.