søndag den 1. marts 2009

Crime with a Message - Weekly Geeks # 8.

This week´s theme: write about a political or social issue that matters to you.

Classical crime fiction, often called whodunnits, were usually mere entertainment, an intellectual puzzle meant to kill a few hours. Noteworthy crime writers who have changed the genre are the Swedish couple Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö who wrote ten very famous crime novels in the period from 1965 to 1975 with the clear agenda of exposing inequality and abuse of power in the Swedish society. Since then several crime writers have voiced social indignation on behalf of children, women, immigrants, minorities etc.

The theme I have chosen to focus on today is abuse of women (a theme which should be relevant to any woman - and fortunately many men also feel obliged to join in the important fight against it).

British & American crime fiction about abuse of women:
Ruth Rendell, Simisola (1994). A novel about exploitation and abuse of illegal immigrants who for obvious reasons dare not go to the police.

Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance (1988). Here I find it difficult to write about the theme without spoiling the plot.

Scandinavian novels:
The most famous Scandinavian (crime fiction) writer right now may be Swedish Stieg Larsson and his millennium trilogy. His debut, "The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo" (2008), deals with a mass murderer exposing young women to horrible sexual maltreatment before killing them.

Other Scandinavian crime novels in which abuse of women is a central theme:
Camilla Läckberg, The Preacher (2009) Prædikanten (2006) - Swedish
Liza Marklund, Paradise (2000) Paradiset (2001) - Swedish

The last three are not translated into English (at least not for the time being)
Kim Småge, Containerkvinden (1999) - Norwegian
Elsebeth Egholm, Personskade (2005) - Danish
Jo Nesbø, Snemanden (2007) - Norwegian

NB: the list is certainly not conclusive. Please send me a comment if you would like to add any of your ´favourite´ crime novels on this serious subject.

Readers´ additions:
Helene Tursten, The Glass Devil (Swedish)
Stieg Larsson, The Girl who Played with Fire (Swedish)
Sophie Hannah, The Other Half Lives (British)

Australian crime fiction:
Michael Robotham, The Night Ferry
Kathryn Fox, Without Consent (forensic thriller)

American crime fiction:
James Patterson, 1st to Die
Tess Gerritsen, Vanish
Christa Faust, Money Shot
John D. MacDonald & the protagonist Travis McGee - several novels about abuse of women
Andrew Vachss - has also written a number of novels on the theme.

Krimi med et budskab - Weekly Geeks # 8.
Denne uges ´weekly geek´ opgave går ud på at skrive om et politisk eller socialt emne, som betyder noget for mig.

Den klassiske krimi blev normalt skrevet udelukkende for at underholde, et intellektuelt puslespil, som skulle slå nogle timer ihjel. Et par krimiforfattere, som har været med til at ændre genren er det svenske ægtepar Maj Sjöwall og Per Wahlöö, som skrev ti berømte krimier i perioden 1965-1975, med den klare hensigt at udlevere manglende lighed og magtmisbrug i det svenske samfund. Siden da har utallige krimiforfattere brugt deres bøger som talerør for udsatte børn, kvinder, immigranter, minoriteter osv.

Det tema, jeg har valgt at fokusere på i dag er misbrug af kvinder (det burde være relevant for enhver kvinde, og heldigvis er der også mange mænd, som har sluttet sig til kampen imod det).

Britisk og amerikansk krimilitteratur om misbrug af kvinder:
Ruth Rendell, Simisola (1995). En roman om udnyttelse og misbrug af illegale immigranter, som af åbenlyse årsager ikke tør henvende sig til politiet.
Elizabeth George, En fars begær (1988).

Skandinaviske krimier:
Den mest berømte netop nu må være Stieg Larssons debut, "Mænd der hader kvinder" (2005).
Kim Småge, Containerkvinden (1999) - norsk
Liza Marklund, Paradiset (2001) - svensk
Elsebeth Egholm, Personskade (2005) - dansk
Camilla Läckberg, Prædikanten (2006) - svensk
Jo Nesbø, Snemanden (2007) - norsk

Læsernes tilføjelser:
Helene Tursten, Glasdjævlen (svensk)
Stieg Larsson, Pigen som legede med ilden (svensk)

NB: listen er på ingen måde fuldstændig. Send gerne en kommentar med flere eksempler.

18 kommentarer:

Anonym sagde ...

This is a theme of Sophie Hannah's latest novel, The Other Half Lives, my review of which is currently submitted to Euro Crime. Being Sophie Hannah, there are several themes, and the abuse is not always what it seems - but a central story there is on this topic. Her earlier books feature physical and mental abuse of women, also.

Dorte H sagde ...

I have heard a lot about Sophie Hannah recently, and I think I´ll have to check her out.

Bernadette sagde ...

Michael Robotham's THE NIGHT FERRY also tackles the subject - in this case it's poor women being sold into slavery for their wombs for rich, childless 'westerners'. Unfortunately it's not his best work in my opinion but it was an interesting perspective that I hadn't seen tackled elsewhere.

Kathryn Fox's WITHOUT CONSENT is a forensic thriller but it tackles the issue of rape and how its victims are treated by the 'justice' system in quite a powerful way

both of these are Australian authors....of course, I have to fly the flag :)

Dorte H sagde ...

Thanks Bernadette for your Australian angle :)
I don´t know Fox, but I really like Robotham.

Beth F sagde ...

Wasn't this a theme in Patterson's 1st to Die? Well, at least sexual abuse and then murder.

Anonym sagde ...


so much to write so little time.

It might be because I'm a only male, but I hold Simisola in high esteem because it shows that your racial assumptions can be horrible false.

Concerning female abuse, Tess Gerrisens Vanish and Christa Fausts Money Shot tackle the issue of sex slaves in the US of east-European origin.

An Author of former times who again and again wrote about the delicate position of females in the US-society was John D. MacDonald with his protagonist Travis McGee, the great Frauenversteher (man who understands women). His books cover also ecological and political topics.

Dorte H sagde ...

Thank you Beth and Bernd for your additions which I have added to my list.

And I agree, Bernd, this incident in Simisola is something you rememeber! Wexford even mentions it in a later novel.

Kerrie sagde ...

excellent and interesting post Dorte

Dorte H sagde ...

Thank you, Kerrie.

Sometimes weekly geeks give you excellent opportunities to write inspired posts, and visit other people who have done the same :)

Uriah Robinson sagde ...

I am reading The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black and what annoys me is the female characters seem to accept being treated like rubbish as normal.

Dorte H sagde ...

Yes, I know what you mean. In real life one can pity them, but in crime fiction one usually wants to shake them & tell them to get their act together.

Anonym sagde ...

Another author who deals with female abuse victims is Andrew Vachhss (or Vachss) who wrote a series of books in the 1980s or 1990s with titles like Flood, Strega, etc. I very much liked these. They were set in New York and were quite dark. They were published by Macmillan, as I came across them via company booksales.
I too enjoyed Simisola. I admire Ruth Rendell's crusading themes in her Wexford books.

Dorte H sagde ...

Vachss has been added - thank you, Maxine.
What you call Rendell´s ´crusading themes´ is probably a main aspect of what I am going to write about when I get to Wexford in the 80s.
- and when will that be? After having read & commented on the six novels she wrote in the 70s :)

Anonym sagde ...

I thought of another one last night - in English it has the title The Glass Devil, the third (to be translated, anyway) Helene Tursten book in the Irene Huss series. It is a very telling book on this topic - quite undramatic and brief in the telling, but very effective and haunting.

Reg / Steve sagde ...

Of course I'll have to nominate The Girl [sic] Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, in which Lisbeth Salander continues getting even. I love the scene with the Harley...

Dorte H sagde ...

Good suggestion, Reg :)

Poly sagde ...

Here is one from Down Under :

Without Consent by Kathryn Fox

Quate: Sydney-based crime writer Kathryn Fox puts realism at the top of her list of priorities, and by drawing on experience as a GP working in a rape crisis centre and hospital emergency wards, her novels have changed the way rape victims are perceived and treated.

There is unbelievable violence against women in Australia.

Dorte H sagde ...

Hi Poly.

Thank you for the links and the suggestions you sent me!