Henning Mankell, the next generation's leading light, wrote books "that connect crimes in Sweden to the rest of the world," according to one review, but there is always a sense in the books of national borders to be crossed. The White Lioness, for example, divides its plot into two segments, one South African, one Swedish.
For the current generation of Nordic crime writers, borders might as well not exist, and not necessarily because of "globalization" either. (How quaint, naive and archaic that word sounds today.) Three Seconds, the Dagger-winning novel by the Swedish authors Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, offers a Swedish-Polish co-protagonist of Russian/German background infiltrating the Polish mafia in a case that involves Danish as well as Swedish police. His opposite number is a police detective whose name, Grens, is the Dutch word for border. (The Swedish-Polish protagonist has twin sons whose names are those of two of the greatest Dutch Renaissance humanists. I have no idea what significance this has, but it contributes to the novel's strong pan-Northern Europe feel.)
We get ferry trips between Poland and Sweden, sudden plane trips to Denmark, and crowded scenes at Warsaw's airport, and the authors make no big deal about this. It's how their world works.
I like to think that globalization in their world (and in that of Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbøl, where Lithuanian streetwalkers are part of the Danish human landscape) is neither new nor monolithic, but rather a reawakening of old, even ancient economic ties previously obscured by wars and revolution. In this case, the ties are those that bind the Baltic and North Seas and the nations that surround them. Once they traded herring and salt; today's commodities are methamphetamine and hookers.
The authors rarely make this point explicitly or didactically, and that's part of what makes their books exciting. They really do take readers into a new/old world.
(For an entertaining exposition of the view that Northern Europe constitutes an overlooked cultural and economic sphere, watch Jonathan Meades' documentary Magnetic North.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2011