Nordic Noir

This month’s Travel and Leisure caught on to the Nordic Noir trend with a piece that offers a guide to the sites associated with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Rather than the usual ponderings over why such as nice, clean, picturesque country like Sweden produces works of grisly crime fiction, the piece, written by Reggie Nadelson (who impressively manages to plug his own most recent book mid-way) digs into the geographical isolation of Stockholm’s new immigrants, as well as the geographical division of the classes and corresponding smouldering suspicion and resentment. One peeve, though: describing Sweden as a country of “frozen emotions” is just annoying.

I have always favored Henning Mankell over Stieg Larsson. With all his talk of “men who hate women,” Larsson tries just a little too hard to be a “good guy” for my tastes, and his hero Mikael Blomkvist’s irresistibility to women is frankly tiresome.

I never bothered with any of the Millennium related sites in Stockholm, but when I went to Ystad you bet I tracked down Mankell’s fictional inspector, Kurt Wallander.

Wallander cake. Photo: Karen Dion

— Special Wallander Cake (decorated in the colors of the Swedish police force) at Fridolfs Konditorei in Ystad. The cafe freqently appears in Mankell’s books as the place where Wallander get his usual herring sandwich.

Ystad street. Photo: Karen Dion

Ystad’s typical pleasant, colorful facade. Don’t be fooled, evil lurks below.

Ystad Bok kaffe. Photo: author

Cafes are ubiquitous in Ystad, as are various media detailing where you can retrace Wallander’s footsteps.

Stockholm

The rain finally cleared and my cold finally gave me a bit of a break, so we got out and into Stockholm and the sun brightened it all up for us.  The city which looked so menacing yesterday under heavy, dark clouds seemed so lighthearted and fun today.

We took one of those “hop-on, hop-off” boat tours around and through the islands, wandered through several ages of Sweden and a world of animals at Skansen; bypassed an event celebrated a round-the-world yacht race, and ended up in Gamla Stan again. But like I say, so much prettier today.

Fever Ray in Stockholm

It rained from before we arrived until after we left. It did not stop raining. I got a cold. The rain made my cold worse. I was miserable. We lined up by the stage to wait and our feet sank into the mud as the announcer told us she was not coming on for another half hour.
Then she arrived and it was worth all of it. Fever Ray’s performance at the Where the Action is Festival in Stockholm on Saturday night was spellbinding: costumes out of a child’s story-book, vocal pitches that varied from sweet and child-like to threatening and monstrous and a dreamy laser you could lose yourself in.