A strange thing has been happening in the world of Scandinavian thrillers, they now have regular visitations from beyond the grave. Two quite different authors, still using the same main characters solving the crimes, have now also got ghostly manifestations helping or hindering.
Now I can readily suppose that in the lands of the midnight sun and the encircling everlasting gloom of winter that one can easily believe in trolls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but I find it faintly hard to credit these things with solving a murder, especially when the protagonists have managed perfectly well before.
So what is going on?
Take Camilla Lackberg, (Swedish) a recent novel The Lost Boy, has a series of ghosts – a whole family no less. Are these the “secret friends syndrome” of a lonely child feeding into the disturbed mind of a traumatised adult? Or are they really there? Quite hard to tell. It is a complicated and many threaded story anyway, no less a good read for this or the ghosts, and eventually Patrick Hedstrom and Erica (the writer/journalist) do solve the case.
The material is all there, it is the “un-material” that is a bit unnerving. And this would not be so odd if another writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Icelandic) hadn’t also started to use ghosts in her novels. Two recent books, I remember you (no image) and Someone to watch over me (not to be confused with the screenplay of a film of the same name) both have very real ghosts, certainly not the markings of an unsound mind, since in the second of those two novels there is an exorcism indoors which merely moves the ghost outside and whose ghostly hand eventually helps link two different events…also a really gripping read with her two main characters, Thora Gudmundsdottir and Matthew Reich reaching the right conclusion in the end. I remember you on the other hand was a book I could not read once it was dark. In this book Scandi noir took on a whole new meaning, the things that went bump in the night were very, very nasty indeed.
Now I am not sceptical about ghosts per se. When I was about eleven, my father, my sister and I quite definitely saw one. We were visiting Claydon House in Buckinghamshire with Sir Harry Verney. My father had taken us along although actually is was more of a professional meeting, and Sir Harry had been delighting us with a demonstration of all the secret drawers in a beautiful Dutch marquetry desk in the drawing room and then we walked into another room, a morning room of a sort, and in this room there was a woman writing a letter, Sir Harry made no indication whatsoever of having seen her, but there she was, rather oddly dressed more nineteenth century than twentieth, and then suddenly she was not there. Afterwards we all asked each other we had seen, we all saw the same thing…was it Florence Nightingale, a Verney, Persephone (Florence’s sister)? We had no idea, all we know was that she was there and then she was not.
So I am happy to go on reading crime thriller ghost stories as long as they do not get too far fetched. I have really enjoyed these authors and will continue to follow the fortunes, and indeed misfortunes, of their characters for as long as I can.