To be perfectly honest, I have never been much into Swedish crime fiction even if (or because) I lived in that country for nine years. I’ve read the occasional Mankell or Nesser while Stieg Larsson has eluded me completely. Well, Larsson was from Umeå and I didn’t have to read some 1500 pages to find out how people were up there.1 That leaves the middle Sjöwall-Wahlöö novels as essential readings – in the early ones S+W are testing the waters and the last three read like tracts from what in Sweden is known as the letter-left.
Perhaps my empirically oriented social scientist brain objects to the plots, because – let’s face it: In Scandinavia, the person most likely to kill you is not Dr. Evil but your partner or one of your friends. If you have a psychiatric illness, Danish police will be more than happy to gun you down. Then there are the gang-related shootings and killings but again it is hard to make existential dramas out of those – even though the shoot-out between Yugoslav and Albanian mobsters on a public beach in Göteborg some years ago stand as a bizarre and pretty dangerous high-point.
But to make a long story short, I haven’t followed the dramatisations of the various series of crime stories (do a search and you should find a post about the enfant terrible of Swedish theatre Michael Persbrandt2 playing the enfant terrible of Swedish police Gunvald Larsson somewhere in the archives), but yesterday I stumbled upon the British (!) dramatisation of one of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels featuring Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander. I’m not quite sure about the plot and it is very strange hearing people supposed to be from Skåne (which, at least to Danish ears, has the most unintelligible Swedish dialect save Älvdalskan) speaking a perfect Queen’s English. But the cinematography, by Anthony Dod Mantle, is truly and utterly stunning.
Oh, and just to add to the confusion: I watched the show on a Norwegian TV-channel.