In the Lineup Author Profiles
Sjöwall and Wahlöö set out to write a series of ten novels that cast a light on Sweden’s social and economic issues. In doing so, they would revolutionize the detective novel and set the tone for the next generation of Nordic crime writers.
Henning Mankell may be less famous than his creation, Inspector Kurt Wallander, who led Scandinavian crime fiction to international bestseller-dom long before a certain tattooed hacker appeared on the scene. But with his books published in thirty-three countries, translated into forty-five languages, and made into more than a dozen films (not to mention his work in theater and his humanitarian projects all over the world), Henning Mankell’s reputation and legacy may yet outlive his famous detective.
James M. Cain, along with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, is one of the figureheads of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction — despite his famous declarations to the contrary. His novels, short fiction, and nonfiction articles helped define the landscape of twentieth-century literature, and although he never found personal success as a screenwriter, the movies based on his fiction set a new standard for film noir.
Back in the 1970s, I was a trainee hack down in Devon and an avid consumer of crime fiction. I can still remember the jolt of reading Detective Inspector Reg Wexford’s beginnings in From Doon With Death (published in 1964) and being bowled over. It’s one of a handful of crime novels that shaped my own ambitions in the field. The classic Rendell hallmarks were all there right from the beginning—the sense of place, the delicate filleting of the characters’ psyches, the avoidance of the prosaic both in character and in motivation.