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I can’t think of anything much gloomier than an Oslo winter. Unless it’s a Connecticut one.

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On a recent l-o-n-g joyride from a cold state to a warm one, I listened to Jo Nesbø’s The Phantom. Nesbø is Norway’s chart-buster à la Stieg Larsson. You remember Larsson, the man who created Lisbeth Salander, The Girl in the Millenium Trilogy.

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Nesbø is the latest go-to Scandinavian crime writer. Phantom is his ninth novel to feature tortured homicide detective Harry Hole. The Oslo gumshoe chain smokes, thumps around in big boots, and attracts the kind of people who burn up your front lawn.

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International authors like Larsson and Nesbø intrigue me. So I picked up a Dutch best seller, The Dinner by Herman Koch. Koch dishes up roiling undercurrents, disturbing revelations, and one very unreliable narrator.

Short take: Two couples meet in a swank Amsterdam restaurant to discuss an outrage perpetrated by their sons. As the evening progresses, their genteel behavior self-destructs and you see that the parents are not so different from their children.

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Dirty tricks. Shocking plot developments. A contemporary moral dilemma with tons of treachery and dark edges. It’s a sly novel. Just when it seems to be heading in one direction, it careens in another.

The Dinner has sold millions of copies in Europe. It’s referred to as a ‘contentious must-read’. I thought it was undeniably riveting. Just like the menu.
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Toni 3/6/13

8 thoughts on “AFTER AN OSLO WINTER, A DUTCH TREAT IS JUST THE THING

  1. Try Nesbo novel The Snowman. It was the one right before The Phantom. These
    Scandinavian authors are really twisted!!!! Just finished Live By Night by Dennis Lehane,,,violent but well-written as are all his books.

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    1. Sayra, I think twisted has potential and is making publishers giddy. I’m watching for the novels by Nele Neuhaus to pop up here. She’s a German writer who worked in a meat packing plant outside Frankfurt and handsold her stories to the factory’s clients. Quite humble beginnings. She’s now a top-selling crime novelist in Europe and Asia, US bookshelves are the next target. The first English translation of Snow White Must Die, her fourth “krimi”, should be here by now. Her publishers chose it because it’s set in a gossipy small town whose residents turn on a suspected killer. Sounds more American than Bavarian, doesn’t it? I’m thinking the characters will be eating jagerschnitzel and be named Hartmut and Gregor, but flaunt the good old universal traits of envy, lust and revenge.
      And I do like Dennis Lehane, his books make great films. What are you reading next? We love your recommendations!
      Toni

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  2. I just discovered Nesbo recently … perhaps it’s the midnight sun that makes them that way! Also am dying to read The Dinner!

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    1. Patty, lots of chatter about Alex by Pierre Lemaitre, which will be published by Quercus/Maclehose Press, an independent publisher in the UK that is launching a US office. Alex will be one of their first titles to be published here. They say If you are a fan of Stieg Larsson, you are in for a real treat. When we meet Alex, she is being kidnapped, but from there the book takes an unexpected turn. It is out now in the UK, and will be out in September here in the US. Another for the BTR pile.
      Toni

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