A visitor to the north of Sweden is often struck by the magnificent landscape of towering peaks and endless vistas of pine forest, polar plains, meadows and glaciers.
The north has a lot to offer in terms of rich natural resources and a unique cultural heritage. Here is where one finds the legendary national parks Abisko and Sarek in Swedish Lapland — one of Europe’s last remaining wilderness. Many wild animals are found in northern Sweden, such as bear, elk, golden eagle and the rare Arctic Fox, as well as reindeer herded by Sámi, Sweden’s one indigenous population. This is also the land of the Midnight Sun and the staggeringly beautiful Northern Lights.
Rapavalley is a 35 km long valley in the middle of Sarek National Park. Photo: Peter Cairns/Image Bank Sweden
During winter-time, ski resorts close to the Arctic Circle are packed with enthusiastic visitors indulging in various winter activities. A must-see is the famous Ice Hotel in Jokkmokk. It has all the features of a luxury boutique hotel, the twist is it that everything, including the glasses in the bar and the beds(!), is made of ice.
With all its richness, the north is a paradise for lovers of the outdoor life. However, the long, cold winters and the lack of daylight can have a dangerous effect on a fragile psyche. A fear of the dark, in a place where light is scarce, can easily become a breeding ground for dangerous minds feeding on the fear of others.
Intriguing psychological crime thrillers is something of a trademark for Åsa Larsson’s work. The plot often plays out in the author's home town, Kiruna. The city, located in the far north, is known for its long, freezing cold and dark winters, the Kiruna mine, which is the largest underground iron ore in the world, and last but not least — its disproportionally large number of suicides. Larsson made her mark in the world of crime fiction with her debut novel Sun Storm (Solstorm) — the first in a series of books about the young female lawyer Rebecka Martinsson. The story begins when unexpected events force Rebecka to return to her home region, just to find herself haunted by both the past and the present. And when the wrong person is out to get you, some secrets are better kept hidden.
Look out for Åsa Larsson's Until Thy Wrath Be Past (Till dess din vrede upphör), English translation due in 2011. Photo: Orlando G Boström
“A male-dominated society, in which women are often portrayed as flat bystanders to powerful men, calls for more heroines!” That was the leading thought behind the creation of Liza Marklund’s well-known crime fiction series about the investigative reporter Annika Bengtzon. In her thrilling novels, Marklund simultaneously deals with the issues of combining parenthood and a successful career. Bengtzon constantly seems to carry a feeling of guilt and inadequacy, especially because her choice of career and quest for the truth often lead her into situations where she puts herself as well as her family at risk. Marklund originates from the small village of Pålmark in the north of Sweden. She moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in journalism and is one of the first successful Swedish female crime fiction writers. She has received international recognition through her bestsellers. The novel she wrote together with James Petterson in 2010, The Postcard Killers, topped the New York Times bestseller list.
Liza Marklund. Photo: Annika Marklund
The novels of Kerstin Ekman are neither purely fiction nor reality, but something in between. In the 1970s and early 1980s, her stories were largely influenced by people and places in her home town, Katrineholm, and her trilogy, The Women and the Town (Kvinnorna och staden), was criticized for coming too close to reality. In the late 1980s Ekman decided to settle down in the north. The northern landscapes, people and the society soon became central to her work. Several of Ekman’s books are referred to as crime fiction novels, but it is the individual and her inner struggle that stand in focus. Among her works can be mentioned Blackwater (Händelser vid vatten) and the trilogy The Wolfskin (Vargskinnet). Ekman was elected a member of the Swedish Academy in 1978, but left the Academy in 1989 due to the debate following death threats made to Salman Rushdie. According to the rules of the Academy, however, she will remain a passive member for the rest of her life.
Kerstin Ekman's "The Practice of Murder" (Mordets praktik) was released in 2009. Photo: Pieter ten Hoopen
Created by the Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi, India, in cooperation with VisitSweden, the Swedish Institute in Paris and other individual authors and publishing houses. Author presentations largely based on texts by Gerard Meudal.
The authors alone are responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.