It started with the Stieg Larson Millennium trilogy and is most recently working itself out in my enjoyment of the Danish original The Killing TV series (kiss-kiss, Van). I've recently made a long list of popular Swedish thrillers - many of which are series focused on one detective - and I cannot wait to find the time to read more.
Here are some of the characteristics I love best in this genre:
- A heroine to the story (though not always, as in the mediocre The Hypnotist - more on that later) who kicks ass (Lisbeth Salander, Sarah Lund/Linden, Smilla) and has had absolutely all she can stand of misogyny and bullshit. She has generally gotten the shit end of at least one kind of stick, and she ain't gonna take it any more
- A mystery that needs some serious solving
- Characters who are the very best at what they do, but who are overlooked by most people because they don't comply with social norms
- Some kind of social injustice that the heroine (except in the mediocre, etc, etc) is absolutely livid about
Here are my recommendations if you enjoyed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the AMC version of The Killing and are interested in more:
- Read Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. It's the grandmammy of the genre and is outstanding. This book is one of Sly B's all-time favorites and she's been trying to get me to read it for ages. Why did I wait so long?
- There's a Julia Ormond movie called Smilla's Sense of Snow that's also wonderful
- Read all three Stieg Larson books - they are fantastic. Then watch the Swedish films - they are fantastic. Then see the US film - it was pretty damn good.
- Watch the AMC version of The Killing - so great. A Nordic Noir story set in Seattle. Fans FREAKED OUT about the S1 ending because it wasn't all Hollywood-tied-in-a-bow. Haha
- Watch the BBC version (it's Danish, but they dubbed into English) of The Killing - it's the original and the story is so dark and thrilling
- Do not, not matter what, pick up The Hypnotist, even though the cover says it's "methadone for those in withdrawal from Stieg Larson novels." First of all, really marketing people? Classy. Because heroin addiction is EXACTLY like loving some books. Second of all, it was a good mystery, but I hated the main character, his wife, his son, and everyone he knew. Seriously it was a 4 out of 10 nipples and doesn't belong in this class
You have your homework.