There are two types of police novels that can awaken my interest. One of them is the obscure category of “who-dun-its”. The other is the social-psychological detective novel.
The Swedish detective novels I know of, all are of the socio-psychological variety. In these, it´s not just a matter of finding out who killed who, and how. It´s also meant to dissect society and its effect on people on both sides of the law. More often than not, the murderer is shown to be a victim (“Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived!“) of society whereas the juridical system is shown to be corrupt, bureaucratic and biased.
Since for most people Sweden is the symbol of a perfect social-democratic society, books like these have an inherent irony, much more so than similar novels from – for instance – the United States, which thanks to television and Hollywood we all perceive as a country full of ghetto´s, evil politicians and gun-toting psychopaths.
There is a new hotel in Barcelona. It´s beautifully placed, just at the side of the harbour and facing the sea. It´s beautifully curved, mirroring the slightly curved beachside. Its exterior is almost entirely made of glass, which both during the day as during the nighttime reflects the colour of the sky itself. Moreover, it´s build on a place that used to be a no-man´s land, full of litter that the sea had thrown up on the shore. It also has been cleverly placed just next to a nudist beach (mainly the homosexual one, the hetero one is a bit further away, although far be it for me to say that nudism and sexual preferences have anything to do with each other. Then again, beaches and sexual preferences might have), which promises a nice cultural cross-over between the “nouveau riche” and the “nue et heureuse“
I got the story out from Sean Kramer, who is the only one of them who´s still alive.
They had suffered a shipwreck in the Pacific and ended up on an island without any food. The first week they survived on the tins and cans from the ship that had floated on the island. Then nothing. They had a small fire, because one of them had a lighter which surprisingly still worked. They had the few clothes on their bodies. They had money, keys and other things which had meant something in a different world but here, on this naked island, were absolutely useless.
The following bit of information I got from an episode of QI, a quiz that is presented by Stephen Fry and specialises in useless but at the same time interesting facts. As an aside, it gets rid of quite a lot of common myths (for instance: it´s not true that dictators are general smaller than other people, champagne was not invented by the French but by the British, and the earth has not one but two moons).
In this particular episode, it is mentioned that once there was a guy that believed that snails who had mated were henceforth for ever telepathically connected. And so, he came up with the idea of a snail telegraph. Have a set of 26 snails in Paris and label each one of them with a letter of the alphabet. Send all their 26 ex-lovers to New York, and – again – identify each one of them with the same letter as their telepathic partner in Paris is associated with. Then spell out a word by wriggling the tails of those snails in Paris that make out the letters of that word. Their telepathic partners in New York would immediately receive their signal from their soul mates and hence wriggle their tails too. A reader in New York would then be able to figure out what the word is. In that way, one could send out messages from Paris to New York without losing time.