So you’ve read The Millennium Trilogy and saw the Swedish film versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire, but your appetite for chilly Swedish crime fiction has not yet been sated. Who do you read next? Free Press and Pocket Books are betting that U.S. readers will turn to Camilla Läckberg; after a heated auction they just jointly bought the U.S. paperback rights to the Swedish crime novelist’s first three novels‚ The Ice Princess, The Preacher, and The Stonecutter‚ from Pegasus Books. She may still be unknown here, but Läckberg is the sixth best-selling novelist in Europe, behind Larsson but ahead of Henning Mankel and John Grisham. Rights have been sold in 33 countries, and her books have been translated into 25 languages.
Last weekend Läckberg was in the Big Apple, participating in a panel on international thrillers at Thrillerfest V along with British authors R.J. Ellroy and Peter James, German novelist Sebastian Fitzek, and fellow Swede Maria Gustafsson. When asked to explain the success of Scandinavian crime fiction, Gustafsson pointed out that Sweden is a secretive country, one that hasn’t has a war in 200 years. “There’s something about Sweden that’s different, that makes it attractive to readers.” James agreed, noting that the benign socialist backdrop made the crimes set in Sweden all the more shocking: “It’s the unexpected in quiet places.”
Although Läckberg now lives in Stockholm with her policeman fiancé, she chose to set her psychological crime novels in one of those quiet places, the small coastal town of Fjällbacka (pop. 1000) where she grew up as the daughter of a policeman. “I know how people there think and speak,” said Lackberg, and her depiction of small-town Swedish life in her books have resonated with readers around the world, including a Spanish journalist who told the author that she recognized much of her own village in Läckberg’s Fjällbacka. Indeed, tourists now flock to this resort (Ingrid Bergman once owned a house here) on Sweden’s western coast to tour the places mentioned in her thrillers. Läckberg even joined one of these popular literary tours and fell into a spirited debate with the guide over where her books really took place.