Larsson-y: I review Lars Kepler in the Philadelphia Inquirer
"combines potboiler thrills and righteous anger in a fat, sprawling tosh-filled package, often with 475 or more pages plus a didactic, statistics-filled epilogue in case the reader doesn’t get the point – or in case he or she thinks the point was just to have some fun. That way the reader get dirty thrills but feels morally uplifted at the same time."While preparing the review, I came across a comment by Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, the female half of the couple that writes as Lars Kepler, that Stieg Larsson had revitalized crime fiction and that the Lars part of their pen name was a tribute to him.
At the same time, I was reading Barry Forshaw's Death in a Cold Climate, which includes a chapter on the Larsson phenomenon but also another called "The Anti-Larsson Writers." Finally, my post on realism, naturalism, and their opposite in crime fiction elicited this comment in Larsson's defense:
"[Larsson] was doing something different. He loved potboilers. He wrote fanfic when he was young and omnivorously consumed pop culture. He wrote a mashup of everything he loved and borrowed from Modesty Blaise to Sarah Paretsky but he also threw in everything he cared about in his day job as a journalist."That commenter and I analyze Larsson and Larssonism in substantially identical terms, in other words, though her assessment is more positive than mine.
This, plus Forshaw's chapter on anti-Larsson writers, leaves me with a bracing feeling that I and the world now understand Nordic crime fiction better than we once did and the hope that we'll be spared further silly invocations of this, that, or the other utterly un-Larssonian writer as the next Stieg Larsson.
But mostly I liked writing the review because I got to define Stieg Larssonism as "potboiler plots with didactic political intent; call it Harold Robbins meets Noam Chomsky."
© Peter Rozovsky 2012
Labels: Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, Barbara Fister, Barry Forshaw, Lars Kepler, newspaper reviews, Nordic crime fiction, off-site reviews, reviews, Scandinavian crime fiction, Stieg Larsson, Sweden, Sweden crime fiction