Scandinavian and Nordic Crime Fiction discussion

128 views
The Wide World of Crime Fiction > About Nordic cop characters

Comments (showing 1-50 of 70) (70 new)    post a comment »

Manugw | 12 comments Which character you find more attractive, developed and compelling, Mankell's Kurt Wallander or Nesbo´s Harry Hole and why ?


message 2: by Kenneth (last edited Dec 19, 2011 10:07AM) (new)

Kenneth Fredette (klfredette) | 846 comments Mod
I like Harry Hole because he's more like me. Being a real person, we
have a similarity. Missing a digit on the right hand. :) It took some getting use to it.


Manugw | 12 comments Kenneth wrote: "I like Harry Hole because he's more like me. Being a real person, we
have a similarity. Missing a digit on the right hand. :) It took some getting use to it."


Did not know that


Anna (aetm) | 226 comments Mod
I like Harry Hole as he follows his own ways. But to be with someone like him would be very irritable in the real life. Hm...
Wallander I like as well, he's got some lonely charm.

The ones of the Nordic cops I don't like would mostly include Van Veeteren.


Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments Hole comes in 1st in my estimation. But then I know him better than Wallander, which might account for my opinion. In Hole I find the quintessential maddening weaknesses complemented by strength and determination, even a sense of honor and obligation to the greater good. Very similar to the noirish leads created by Hammet and Chandler. Wallander has a softer feel and an ambivalence toward his work that makes him less appealing to me.


message 6: by Cateline (last edited Dec 31, 2011 11:45AM) (new)

Cateline But, isn't Wallander's ambivalence basic to his personality and the stories themselves? He isn't so sure he is right, and questions the system. I like that quality.

I haven't read all of either Mankell or Nesbo yet, but to me Harry is a more typically or prototype
cop, I don't necessarily see him as noirish.

LOL, maybe I've been watching too much Law & Order though.


Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments Cateline wrote: "But, isn't Wallander's ambivalence basic to his personality and the stories themselves? He isn't so sure he is right, and questions the system. I like that quality.

I haven't read all of eit..."


I haven't read all of either of these works, either. I'm further along with Nesbo's Harry Hole, though and had him firmly ensconced on the throne of what I deem a great character (and that certainly doesn't mean perfect, just interesting and frustrating and real). Then Sharon, who's in these Goodreads groups, suggested Mankell and I went through the first three of them. By the third book I'd come to appreciate the series more, but it's still not my first pick.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments I don't understand the attraction behind Van Veeteren either. Wallander's lonely charm sometimes works ell for me, sometimes it seems whiney, especially when it comes to his job. Myself, I see a heavy noir influence in Harry Hole. And like him or hate him, he's at least an original protagonist who breaks the clichés.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Hole comes in 1st in my estimation. But then I know him better than Wallander, which might account for my opinion. In Hole I find the quintessential maddening weaknesses complemented by strength an..."

Susan wrote: "Hole comes in 1st in my estimation. But then I know him better than Wallander, which might account for my opinion. In Hole I find the quintessential maddening weaknesses complemented by strength an..."

What you describe for H Hole I find in different measure in K Wallander. Those are exactly the traits and strengths that make him appealing and a character you want to read again and hate to have finish.
The disintegration of the character / basically self destruction of the character of Harry Hole is making him much less readable and for me, creditable. Many people in the real world deal and work with horror daily without the need to self destruct. This concerns me!


Molly | 59 comments Mod
For me, the question is which one would you rather hang out with? I'll pass on the untreated alcoholic, if I'm honest, even though we'd probably have fun. I would rather hang out with Erlendur, because I like a good grump who enjoys sheep byproducts.


Anna (aetm) | 226 comments Mod
Hang out for a pint? With Hole and Vaara. I'd totally love to see Harry get wasted :D and I guess I'd invite Erlendur too, as long as his annoying offspring don't get anywhere close to the bar.
But to hang out with in a more personal sense? If I had to pick a detective to get a bit more involved with on personal levels, I'd have to go less Nordic and pick someone else. Montalbano or Fazio. Or wait, maybe Pekkala could be interesting too.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
Anoi>Anna wrote: "Hang out for a pint? With Hole and Vaara. I'd totally love to see Harry get wasted :D and I guess I'd invite Erlendur too, as long as his annoying offspring don't get anywhere close to the bar.
But..."
I would take Zen or Montalbano


Ian (PepeCan) | 321 comments I've always fancied a pint or several with Rebus


Elizabeth (elizabeth8921) | 177 comments Ian wrote: "I've always fancied a pint or several with Rebus"

Got the first Rebus Dvd's. No one like Rebus


Anna (aetm) | 226 comments Mod
Well, with my including Montalbano and his Fazio I guess the Scott, Rebus would fit too. ;)
I'd also love to see how the Harrys = Hole and Bosch, would get along.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "Ian wrote: "I've always fancied a pint or several with Rebus"

Got the first Rebus Dvd's. No one like Rebus"


So agree, watched DCI Banks last night and he is okay but so conservative...so hope IR means it when he said recently he might bring Rebus back......fingers crossed.


Rachel | 53 comments Harry Hole...mainly because nesbo presents him to us as a lovable charmer/loser...worked on me anyway


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Just curious. Would you feel the same if the protag was a female lovable loser? I've always found the way some females are attracted to losers and/or so-called bad boys both interesting and confusing.


Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments James wrote: "Just curious. Would you feel the same if the protag was a female lovable loser? I've always found the way some females are attracted to losers and/or so-called bad boys both interesting and confusing."

What a great question, James, and one that goes to the heart of cultural understanding of gender. A woman who exhibited the same strengths and weaknesses as Harry Hole would definitely NOT appeal to me. I can get behind Rakel, however.


Rachel | 53 comments James wrote: "Just curious. Would you feel the same if the protag was a female lovable loser? I've always found the way some females are attracted to losers and/or so-called bad boys both interesting and confusing."

Ooh now thats got me thinking...


message 21: by Susan (last edited Jan 08, 2012 03:30PM) (new)

Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments James, et al, I've been thinking about your question this afternoon, and I think I should qualify my earlier response. Perhaps (some) women are attracted to loser/bad guy types for similar reasons that (some) men are drawn to wild women for a time. Certainly sexual magnetism has to play a big role, and then who knows what drives our needs/desires?


Molly | 59 comments Mod
I think I would definitely read about a "lovable loser" if the character were female. Why should men have the monopoly in the crime world of being messed up?

For me, I like when I can see characteristics in a protagonist that I can relate to. I'm not sure what that says about me, given the topic, but I like characters with relatable problems.


Anna (aetm) | 226 comments Mod
I may like the detective/inspector/thriller characters that have some serious flaws, but I would not want to have one like them as a lover or spouse in the real life. They might work for some, but I'd get a burnout in less than a week with a Hole or a Bosch.
So in books yes, I love when the characters have some flaws.

And I'd love more female detectives too with similar flaws in character. Not just the overgrown Nancy Drews, Miss Marples or the Nordic equivalents of them. Just because the detective would happen to be female does not mean they would have to be interested in shoe shopping, have to worry about daycare for their infants, or seem boring like Mrs. Brunetti. So far I don' think I've found many female characters that I'd like and that would fit the "flaws". Lisbeth is probably the only one that comes to my mind... (other than something I'm plotting and is still in process)


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
Anna wrote: "I may like the detective/inspector/thriller characters that have some serious flaws, but I would not want to have one like them as a lover or spouse in the real life. They might work for some, but ..."

Well, neither Kay Scarpetta (Cornwall) or Temperance Brennen (Reichs) are without major flaws and the folks around the, certainly go through some experiences too that I would wish to avoid but can enjoy reading about.
Tess Gerritsens two are certainly strange ladies but somewhat likable.
On tv there have been some great females in both France and Italy. And a current couple from Denmark in the two big series of The Killing and now Borgen. Mind you so far in Borgen she shows just strength ..we are not yet seeing flaws.....
Strange such an absence of females.....even many female writers seem to write their main character as male....good food for thought.


Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments Maybe there's an assumption in the publishing world that both men and women prefer to read about strong yet flawed male types and let's face it, to be a writer you have to find an audience that wants to read your stuff.


message 26: by Kenneth (last edited Jan 10, 2012 08:39AM) (new)

Kenneth Fredette (klfredette) | 846 comments Mod
Women make up the majority of readers, however I would like to think that it doesn't make a difference whether they are male or female, the only thing that is of interest to me is the story line. Can it be interesting? Can it keep me captivated? Of course I had 3 sisters. And I have 2 daughters and only one son. It's in me, not to look to one sex or the other to be the leader in the story.


Junying | 264 comments Perhaps no such a thing as a female loveable loser, and it's a male speciality? I find that as a woman reader I'm attracted to strong female characters - while it may be loveable for some women to love a loser in the opposite sex, would they feel the same towards one of their own? So I think James's question should be aimed at male readers :)

As for Harry Hole or Wallander, I definitely prefer the latter. So far I've only read the Redbreast, and found Jo Nesbo to be excruciatingly slow going - although I've got several of his other books on my kindle and paperbacks, I'm not sure I want to go back to him. He took forever to get to the point! Henning Mankell, on the other hand, even though slow burn, he is a great writer and he keeps you interested!


message 28: by Susan (last edited Jan 12, 2012 11:52AM) (new)

Susan (SusanThomas) | 126 comments Interesting how we all have a unique perspective and certain expectations both from the writers and the characters they create. Redbreast remains my favorite of Nesbo's books primarily because it lacked the sadistic violence I abhor reading about. I'm almost through with the series, and Hole is my all time favorite detective. By comparison I find Wallander a little boring and Mankell's writing less appealing, but as I said we're all looking for what draws us in and speaks to us. Good that we have many to choose from!


Junying | 264 comments Yes, indeed. I agree that different writers speak to different readers - it definitely has something to do with what we expect and what our experiences are.


message 30: by James (last edited Jan 14, 2012 06:09AM) (new)

James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Susan wrote: "James, et al, I've been thinking about your question this afternoon, and I think I should qualify my earlier response. Perhaps (some) women are attracted to loser/bad guy types for similar reasons ..."

I tend to think men are in general more simple creatures than women. When i was younger--I'm only 47 but now married, settled, and sown enough wild oats to feed a small country--so I'm talking 20s early 30s, wild women, by which I think at least in part you mean promiscuous, had an appeal because they liked to go to clubs, drink, and have sex at the end of the night. Just fun company. I had no sense of past, future, danger. No sense at all really. Just an unrelenting desire to be have fun and be entertained. I enjoyed the company of women equally shallow.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
James wrote: "Susan wrote: "James, et al, I've been thinking about your question this afternoon, and I think I should qualify my earlier response. Perhaps (some) women are attracted to loser/bad guy types for si..."

Youth well described..........no commitments just a good time.
IMO this changes only when the person, no matter which gender, as women are equally as capable as men of wanting to have flings and no strings and live a little, decides to become more grounded and settled. This happens earlier or later and in rare cases, never!
Back where we were discussing Harry Hole, I think had things been different, he would have certainly committed himself to the relationship and even was proving to be an alright father, to a degree...his environment just prevented it being safe and permanent for all three people. IMO this is the tragedy of his life ..... think it just pulled out of sorts and he cannot get a grasp again. But he cares and deeply..... stop laughing....


Rachel | 53 comments Blimey..never thought my comment about HH would prompt such a debate...


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Not laughing. I haven't read all the HH novels but I've thought the same--that he cares deeply. I wonder though, if his substance abuse problems would allow him to be a good spouse/partner and father. I gathered he's been tippling since he was old enough to tip the bottle.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
James wrote: "Not laughing. I haven't read all the HH novels but I've thought the same--that he cares deeply. I wonder though, if his substance abuse problems would allow him to be a good spouse/partner and fath..."

Hi there, yes but the drinking seems a given! The drugs of the last books and especially The Leopard surprised me. That earlier he had possession of this and that seemed recreational but this HK stuff and hard stuff just seemed so extreme. S


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Well, it is extreme. In the Leopard, as his father lays dying, he talks to Harry about his hard drinking in a way that suggests he's been drunk since he was a teenager, and Harry and his buddy share teenage memories and in all them, they're both really drunk.So I take it he's a lifelong hardcore substance abuser.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
James wrote: "Well, it is extreme. In the Leopard, as his father lays dying, he talks to Harry about his hard drinking in a way that suggests he's been drunk since he was a teenager, and Harry and his buddy shar..."

Interesting to see a reformed HH in Phantom...he has the power to be clean when driven strongly enough...but what a book! Sad to say goodbye.


Michael Ridpath | 21 comments It's very hard as a writer to get the balance right between a nice guy and a flawed character. And all the time you have the cliche of the tough, divorced, alcoholic cop to avoid. I am pretty sure that writers chose someone who matches their own view of the world, you can't be too cynical about it, in other words. Writing about a character because you think it will sell will lead to a cliche, but someone who seems real to the author will seem real to the reader.

I have found it is good to introduce some instability into a hero's background, stuff that well come back and bite them. You don't know exactly how or when, but the author and the reader knows it will.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "It's very hard as a writer to get the balance right between a nice guy and a flawed character. And all the time you have the cliche of the tough, divorced, alcoholic cop to avoid. I am pretty sur..."

Well said, thanks.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Michael wrote: "It's very hard as a writer to get the balance right between a nice guy and a flawed character. And all the time you have the cliche of the tough, divorced, alcoholic cop to avoid. I am pretty sur..."

Why does a crime protagonist have to be a nice guy? And although there is a little piece of us in all our characters, why does he need to share the author's worldview? We can hold many worldviews in our imaginations. One good piece of advice I was given though, is whether good or bad, never write a character you can't love.


Michael Ridpath | 21 comments James wrote: "Michael wrote: "It's very hard as a writer to get the balance right between a nice guy and a flawed character. And all the time you have the cliche of the tough, divorced, alcoholic cop to avoid. ..."

A crime protagonist definitely doesn't have to be a nice guy. In fact he should have some flaws. I have a friend who is always complaining that my protagonists should be a bit sleazier. The trouble is the protagonist has to be in tune with his author, otherwise it just won't work. I suppose it's part of what you mean when you say "never write a character whether good or bad". I've tried to write anti-heroes, but they don't work very well. I'm basically a nice guy, which means I do basically nice guys reasonably well.

It would be no fun to write a series about a character who didn't share your worldview. Or to put it another way, it is more fun to write about one that does. That's certainly not a rule, just an opinion.


message 41: by Kenneth (last edited May 10, 2012 11:05AM) (new)

Kenneth Fredette (klfredette) | 846 comments Mod
So what you're saying is that for the most part you write about your world with a few quirks in it to make it interesting. You give your characters your traits which are basically good. Given the Nordic cop characters which seem bad, divorced, loner, why can't that be developed without losing the good traits. ie., Harry Hole still likes his girlfriend's boy Oleg, while missing Rakel. He still has good traits. I'll let you know what I think I'm reading Where the Shadows Lie right now.


Sharon | 1141 comments Mod
What a great discussion...


Michael Ridpath | 21 comments Kenneth wrote: "So what you're saying is that for the most part you write about your world with a few quirks in it to make it interesting. You give your characters your traits which are basically good. Given the..."

Yes, you need good and bad. The problem I have is when I try to shove too many bad traits into my hero. I don't like him, and then the reader doesn't like him. Now that's essentially my problem. Other crime writers I know have either a seemier side to their characters, or would like to if they weren't married with 2.2 kids and a mortgage. They can come up with engaging bad guy characters, like Harry Hole (OK, he's not that bad, but I think you know what I mean).

I don't know whether you ever read Dick Francis, but he was the expert at the likeable good guy. And Lee Child does a middle class sweetie dressed up as a mean tough guy. It's fascinating that in England at any rate, people who liked Dick Francis now like Jack Reacher.

Once again, I'm not saying one way is right or wrong, just different writers do different things well.

I hope you like Where The Shadows Lie.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments I won't argue with that. If it's not fun, it's not worth doing.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Won't argue with any of that either. It takes all kinds. Like in real life, that's what makes the fictional world interesting. I think 'good guy' protagonists selling more books is a misconception. Nesbo, last I heard, had sold 11 million books. It's like the Hollywood misconception that movies with 'up' ending make more money. Box office receipts have proven that's simply not true. A down or ironic ending has just as much earning potential. All that matters is a well told story.


Michael Ridpath | 21 comments Yes, I think you are right about bad guys selling as well or better than good guys, although most are somewhere in between.

I do think that an upbeat ending is more satisfying for readers of commercial fiction than a down beat one. I hate to open a whole new can of worms, but I took a sample of modern literary vs commercial fiction and the only consistent differentiating factor I could find was that commercial fiction usually had an upbeat ending, and literary a downbeat one.

There is also an impression that a downbeat ending is somehow cleverer than an upbeat ending, although usually they are much easier to plot. Think of it: hero tied to the railway tracks, train speeding along, how will the hero escape? He doesn't. He gets run over. Might be postmodern ironic, but it didn't take much imagination to come up with.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Michael wrote: "Yes, I think you are right about bad guys selling as well or better than good guys, although most are somewhere in between.

I do think that an upbeat ending is more satisfying for readers of comme..."


I don't know if the perception that a downbeat ending is more clever or not. You're probably right though. However, a well-written story with an ironic ending, meaning the protag achieves his/her goal, only to find it wasn't he/she wanted, isn't just perceived as more clever, it IS more clever and takes a great deal of skill to pull off.

There are more positive ending commercial fiction works because of the perception that they sell better, despite statistics stating otherwise, so publishers put often put guns to writers' heads and demand them. I'm very lucky. My editor gives good advice without jamming what I should write down my throat.


Kenneth Fredette (klfredette) | 846 comments Mod
OK, so I've read both of Michael's and James books. Both of you are fantastic writers. Michael you are amazing the way you handled all the action making it real. My hats off to you. What can I say James, but I wish I could read more, today. I read 3 to 4 books a week so it's not something I take lightly.


James Thompson (JamesThompson) | 310 comments Kenneth wrote: "OK, so I've read both of Michael's and James books. Both of you are fantastic writers. Michael you are amazing the way you handled all the action making it real. My hats off to you. What can I ..."

You can't read 3-4 books and take it lightly. It's a major part of your life. Hats off to you!


Michael Ridpath | 21 comments Kenneth wrote: "OK, so I've read both of Michael's and James books. Both of you are fantastic writers. Michael you are amazing the way you handled all the action making it real. My hats off to you. What can I ..."

Thanks, Kenenth.


« previous 1
back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

Where the Shadows Lie (other topics)
Have Mercy on Us All (other topics)
Some Kind of Peace (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Michael Ridpath (other topics)
Camilla Grebe (other topics)