Scandinavian Crime 2.0
October 10th, 2011
by Tiina Kristoffersson, Stilton Finland

Scandinavian crime is a brand. It is often associated with dark realism, long winters in a gloomy Scandinavian town and depressed police officers with drinking problems. The author of The Friend, Pekka Hiltunen, unusually has placed his crime novel in London. The story goes against the typical Scandinavian crime genre on other levels too.

One of the reasons Pekka Hiltunen decided to place his story in London is to highlight the Finnish identity of the two heroines, Mari and Lia. As they are both Finns in cosmopolitan London, their national identity is highlighted in a way that would not be possible if the events took place in Finland. Everyone who has ever lived outside their home country knows that the unique characteristics of one’s national identity are magnified among people who are not of the same nationality. The same goes for Mari and Lia, who discuss the Finnish way of life, and especially the lives of Finnish women. All of this feels genuine and true in the foreign surroundings.

Placing Scandinavian crime stories outside Scandinavia is a current trend that the Swedish book business magazine, Svenska Bokhandel, wrote about during the Gothenburg book fair:

I personally think that the "globalisation" of Scandinavian crime writing is a natural step in the crime genre, which is currently finding a new identity. Traditional Scandinavian crime, version 1.0, is turning into Scandinavian crime 2.0, where traditional features such as the archipelago, little Scandinavian towns, and police officers with a drinking problem are left behind, and something new is emerging, without the genre losing its unique Scandinavian flavour. I think this is a really good sign and a very welcome development, as we have noticed that publishers and readers are getting tired of worn-out characters and familiar set-ups. Pekka Hiltunen’s The Friend (as well as the entire Studio series) is one of the modern novels that are here to reform the Scandinavian crime scene.