"Kvist ... inhaled the smell of fresh-baked bread, thinking that these small bakeries were getting rare.These days Kvist might have added "... and drink the same coffee, talk on the same phone, and read the same book on the same e-reader from the same company," but the sentiment remains pertinent today.
"Soon they'll vanish altogether and you'll be able to buy nothing but mass-produced bread in plastic wrapping and the entire Swedish nation will eat exactly the same loaves and buns and cakes."
What is a reader to make of the juxtaposition of serendipitous breaks by underlings and the lengthy, draining, sometimes heart-rending work put in by their superiors? Is this merely a more realistic account of how investigations work? A polemical attack on the convention that a novel must have a central figure? A raspberry aimed at authority by a pair of mischievous leftists?
Whatever the reason, other Scandinavian crime writers, Karin Fossum and Håkan Nesser among them, followed Sjöwall and Wahlöö's lead, dispersing the focus away from a central figure and distributing it among a larger cast.
Why do they do this? What other authors focus more on a cast of characters than on one central figure? What effect does this have? (Please remember to write your name on your blue books before you hand in your test papers.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2011