16 February 2012

Nordic Thrillers

My husband and I had an interesting discussion over the weekend, as I was immersed in a novel he recommended to me.   We talked about Nordic authors, and specifically the Nordic crime fiction genre.  If you think you've never heard of any, chances are you're wrong. Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy  is a worldwide blockbuster in print and on screen.  The novels are complex reads; they are populated by a large ensemble cast of characters.  To follow the story requires that the reader pay attention to seemingly small details and keep track of multiple plot lines.  Larsson deftly brought each character to life; each person feels real.

Based on our mutual appreciation of Larsson's novels, my husband recommended Jo Nesbo's books to me.  I do not usually read crime thrillers.  In fact, I actively avoid them.  I gave him the benfit of the doubt, and started The Snowman late last week.  I finished the very next day - I could not put it down.  Much like Larsson, Nesbo introduces a complex and diverse cast of characters with richly detailed backstories.   The novels demands the full attention of the reader; you could not pause for a few weeks while reading this book and simply pick it back up.   As soon as I finished, I went to the library and checked out another of his books, and I plan to fill out my Nook library with the others in the very near future.  I have also checked out another thriller, Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  This author as billed as a rival to Stephen King (who I love).

What this lead to was an interesting conversation about the relatively unchallenging landscape of popular American fiction.  I am in no way saying there are not wonderful novels being put out by American authors.  I am just sharing an observation about the marked difference in the way a reader is expected to participate in the books.  My husband thinks this is due to authors' responding to American's short attention span. Have you read any of these novels?  If so, did you notice a difference in their execution?  Do you like books that require you to be more involved as a reader? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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