By Ellen Tyldesley and Fine Mayer
In Norway, Easter is celebrated with Påskekrim, or Easter Crime. Here at The Publishing Post we were delighted to hear about an Easter tradition centered around reading as we love any excuse to add new books to our shelves!
In February 1923, Norwegian authors Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie, under the joint pseudonym Jonatan Jev, decided to write a new crime novel titled Bergenstoget plyndret i natt (Robbery on the Bergen Train). The Sunday before Easter, publishers Gyldendal launched an impressive ad campaign on the front page of newspapers; a campaign so convincing, most of the population didn’t realise it was fiction and truly believed a train had been robbed. Unsurprisingly, the novel received a lot of attention and became a huge success. It’s nearly 100 years later and Nowegians are still reading crime fiction for Easter. Bjarne Buset, information manager at the Norwegian publishing house Gyldendal, said to VisitNorway.com, “many consider this novel to be the first Easter crime and the very origin of the tradition”. This tale is truly a testament to how important marketing is to the success of a book!
During the novel we meet a group of students who utilise the long Easter weekend to rob the Bergen train, under the assumption that people will be on holiday and so unable to reach the crime scene in time. Perhaps this tradition also stems from the fact that in Norway, Easter is also closely linked with skiing and staying in cosy holiday cottages (hyyte) for an extended Easter break. Buset said:
“Few other countries have as many days off during Easter as Norway. The length of our holiday means that we have time to read”.
Across the country, publishers schedule new releases to coincide with Easter, many bookshops decorate accordingly with mysterious crime fiction displays, and thrillers take over Norwegian TV channels.
Below we’ve rounded up some exciting new releases and a few of our favourite crime novels, so you can curl up with a good book this Easter weekend.
Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst
This is the second installment of the Blix and Ramm series and is set to be every bit as intriguing as the first. This series is the result of a collaboration between two of Norway’s top crime novelists to create an addictive and atmospheric series. Jørn Lier Horst is a former police officer and Thomas Enger a former journalist, the result is a highly detailed story told with both accuracy and emotion to keep you turning those pages.
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughn
Watersones’ crime book of the month for March is a psychological thriller that “threatens to unravel the seemingly perfect image of a stay-at-home mother”.This novel explores the complexities of motherhood and the unending feeling of guilt that can come with it, all in beautifully compelling prose.
Under The Bridge by Jack Byrne
From northern indie publishers Northodox Press comes a thrilling novel steeped in the culture of the author’s hometown of Liverpool. Under The Bridge is a brilliant debut that twists together two different stories. In 1955, Michael is escaping poverty in Northern Ireland and then in 2004 a body is found in Liverpool’s docklands. Secrets from the past resurface and weave their way into the lives of everyone involved in this mysterious death.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
This novel is one that is fully immersed in that Scandi-Nordic setting, but chooses to focus on the psychological effects of a violent and traumatic event, rather than the crime itself. This novel takes you deep into the lives of everyone in Beartown, exploring their relationships with one another and how these are impacted following a pivotal event. It also delves into the wider cultural impacts that a high-profile criminal case can trigger.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Would any crime fiction compilation be complete without Agatha Christie? Her notable mention here comes in the form of And Then There Were None, credited by many as being her best novel. Ten strangers are invited to an island by an anonymous host, a few days later they are all murdered under mysterious circumstances with no obvious suspect. This is a true ‘whodunnit’ that keeps you guessing the whole way through.