Friday, April 27, 2012

The Edgars, Part I

Anne Holt was both gracious and jovial when I told her after last night's Edgar Awards dinner how much I was enjoying her novel 1222, but she kept addressing me as "sir."

She's about my age, so there was no call for such formality. "Typical Scandinavian reticence and reserve," I thought, until I noticed sometime afterward that I'd lost my name tag. So all Holt, whose book had been short-listed for the best-novel Edgar, had to go on was an empty plastic card-holder with a yellow strip dangling from it that read "Press." Anyone who detects irony in the juxtaposition can take it somewhere else, pal. I have a job to do.

I finished reading Holt's book on the train home from New York, and I remain impressed by her boldness in taking an old Agatha Christie formula and infusing it with tension and a thoroughly contemporary feel. The novel's dénouement may have just a touch of the anti-Americanism that makes some readers of Scandinavian crime fiction roll their eyes, but if it does, Holt's handing of the matter is nuanced and humane.

(Mo Hayder's Gone won the best-novel Edgar. Here's a list of winners. And here are the nominees.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Anonymous kathy d. said...

I liked "1222" a lot, although it took awhile to get used to the crustiness of the main character. But it is a fascinating book, and the more one reads about the protagonist, the more interesting she gets.

I wish more of this series were translated into English and published over here or in Britain, so I could read them.

April 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy: Anne Holt told me that the success of 1222 means that more English translations of her books are on the way. Have you read any of her other novels? I'm curious about whether she uses that device of building a contemporary story on an old-fashioned mystery framework in any of the other books.

Hanne loses her crustiness when she's detecting and, unlike some Nordic crime-fiction protagonists, she's more wistful than gloomy.

April 28, 2012  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I read one of the Vik/Stubo novels, which was fun, but not unusual like 1222 is and as the protagonist is a distinct personality.

The book I read was more of a police procedural with methods of death rather brutal, leading me to think about what is it about Scandinavia that renders up such grotesque crimes in the mysteries.

I have read reviews that Fear Not is quite good.

April 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if the brutality suggests that 1222's Agatha Christie-like plot is an exception in Holt's writing and that her other books are more typical of Scandinavian mysteries.

Years ago, before I started Detectives Beyond Borders, I attended a reading where someone asked Henning Mankell why the killing in his novels were so horrible. He shrugged and said: "Because these things happen."

April 28, 2012  

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