Gotland murders

You can’t read this book. Sorry. But my earlier suggestion that people learn Swedish in order to read untranslated Swedish crime is still valid. Annika Bryn, whose blog I have mentioned here before, as well as her friendship with Stieg Larsson, is also a crime writer.

I performed a minor service for Annika a while ago, and she sent me a reward in the shape of her third novel, which I’ve now read. And I honestly don’t know why she isn’t one of the Nordic crime writers filling up British and American bookshops.

Annika’s detective is policewoman Margareta Davidsson, who normally does her detecting in Stockholm. In Morden i Buttle (The Murders in Buttle) she has come to recuperate on Gotland, the large island east of Öland. That may be part of the reason I just couldn’t stop thinking of Johan Theorin while reading. There are other similarities. Annika also has a historical puzzle that somehow is connected to the modern day murders. And there are unspeakable things happening to children.

Annika Bryn, Morden i Buttle

Margareta’s recuperating doesn’t go too well when she finds a dead girl outside her borrowed cottage in the middle of Gotland, in the village of Buttle. She had noticed a man she felt uneasy about on the ferry the previous day, and she’s sure he has something to do with the dead body. The local police don’t believe her theories. And when her Stockholm colleague Kent turns up out of the blue, things get complicated.

There is, as I said, an older mystery too, from the 19th century. A young unmarried mother who died far too early, catches Margareta’s attention. I really would have loved to read about this girl with a less unhappy ending, but then her story wouldn’t have fitted in with Margareta’s new murder victim.

This is a suitably bleak and violent tale to fit in with other recent Scandinavian crime writing. I just wish it would stand a chance of being translated.

15 responses to “Gotland murders

  1. adele geras

    This sounds lovely! I wish I could read it, Bookwitch. Maybe Theorin got there first and they feel the similarities are too much? Who knows, why one person gets chosen and another doesn’t? My Swedish is coming along nicely! I find myself, after my weekly dose of Wallander saying ABSOLUT! all the time….

  2. Oh, but we do! I have read a handful of Swedish crime novels during the last year. The truth may be that I do it because Swedish paperbacks are much cheaper than Danish ones, but some of my Danish blog friends are very impressed that I read Swedish 😀

    Mari Jungstedt is a piece of cake, but it takes some time to read Arne Dahl, and I am not sure I get all the finer details.

    I will put Annika Bryn on my long list.

  3. Jenny Watson

    Annika Bryn should definitely be translated. I am a professor of Scandinavian literature and teach a Nordic Crime course which I WISH could include Annika Bryn, but…it’s taught in English. If I could find a publisher, I would translate her. Her books reflect Scandinavia so well and offer great social commentary. Anyone have any ideas for a publisher? If so, please let me know.

  4. Absolut, Adèle! Don’t think I was aware they say it so much, but you do become ‘blind’ to some details. Beware their almost 100% Stockholm accent, however, which is SO wrong for Ystad.

    Dorte, I knew you’re very good at this, and you have read more Swedish than I have Danish.

    Jenny, I’m sure there is a publisher for Annika somewhere. We just have to find them.

  5. I Buttle sometimes too.

  6. Me too. I buttle even more now.

  7. Thanks for this post. I would definitely like to read these novels if translated, so let’s hope they will be. Johan Theorin’s books are set on Oland, the next door island (but as Adele says, the themes sound similar). Mari Jungstedt, who is translated (by Tiina Nunnally) sets hers in Gotland so I feel I know the island fairly well, now.
    Another great Swedish crime author who has only had 3 novels translated (in the US, not the UK) is Helene Thursten. And Asa Larsson, who is really good, was dropped by her UK publisher after the first 3, but has now been picked up by Quercus, thankfully.

  8. adele geras

    I was going to suggest Quercus myself! They have a 4150% increase in profits thanks to Larssen…they’d be the ones I’d go to for translation things, I think. Christopher Maclehose is the man to talk to, I reckon.

  9. Jenny Watson

    Thank you for the name and suggestion of Quercus! I’ll talk to Annika to see what she thinks! I’m wondering–those of you who have read her books–which one you think should be translated first. Personally I think the Morden i Buttle might be the most appealing to English speaking readers because it’s set on Gotland and also because it deals with a child killer which is an international fear. I’d love to hear opinions! Thanks.

  10. Jenny Watson

    Sorry, misspoke on the child killer–I’m up too early without coffee.

  11. Jenny – I believe in starting at the beginning. I didn’t, and I gather there is knowledge it might have been useful to have had.

    And, of course, I’m only thinking UK, whereas you are thinking US market.

    Fingers crossed.

  12. Jenny Watson

    Thanks for your thoughts. It makes sense to start at the beginning. The US market is so puzzling to me. I wish we read more in general.
    I contacted Quercus yesterday. We’ll see if I get an answer…they don’t take unsolicited manuscripts so I may not be welcome.

  13. What an interesting discussion! I’m a literary agent, and as a Swede, I am always on the look-out for interesting new authors to represent. I have to admit I’ve not read Annika Bryn, but Gotland is certainly a very atmospheric setting and I would think it would have international appeal.

    We work a lot with Quercus, and many other UK and US publishers as well of course, so I would be interested in getting in touch with Annika to discuss her international submissions. Any idea of how to do that? You can contact me on or via our website Thanks!

  14. This is exciting. I am now in contact with LB!

  15. And – thanks everyone!

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