Book Talk: Fresh mayhem in chilly Stockholm

Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:57am EDT
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Winter nights are long and cold in Stockholm. Their chill permeates some recent Swedish fiction.

Amid the popularity of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy --about investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander -- Scandinavian writers such as Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg attracted new fans.

Another, Lars Kepler, is a publishing success in Europe, and is now looking to hook readers in the United States and other countries for a planned eight-book series.

Kepler's first novel, "The Hypnotist," is set in the weeks before Christmas as police investigate the bloody massacre of a family. A therapist who has not practiced hypnosis for years interrogates a young survivor, but events in his own past soon complicate the story. More violent mayhem ensues.

Kepler is the pseudonym of a couple, Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril, who write modernist and historical fiction when not spinning macabre crime tales. Their series centers on police detective Joona Linna, one of the heroes of "The Hypnotist," which is soon to be a Swedish-language movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

The co-authors told Reuters about their secret identity, the appeal of crime fiction, and why their three daughters are not allowed to even see their parents' books.

Q: Hello. Who am I speaking with?

A: "We are speaking as Lars Kepler. We are writers in our own life, but we write totally different books. We wanted to signal that this was a different genre for us, a different voice. We were secret at the beginning but it only lasted three weeks. Everybody knows it's us. Lars Kepler has taken over now. There hasn't been any time for our own writing.   Continued...

<p>Writers Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril, who use the pseudonym "Lars Kepler", in an undated image. REUTERS/Handout</p>