An audience with a master of Nordic crime fiction

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The popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction on the page and on screen set off a trend which has led to European detectives becoming a fixture of Saturday nights on BBC4.

Among them last year was a series about a tight-knit group of cops who investigate the dark side of Swedish society. Its English title was Arne Dahl which unusually was not the name of a character but the pseudonym of the author of the books on which they are based.

“I don’t know of this happening to anyone else, except Ellery Queen, perhaps,” laughs the Swedish writer, Jan Arnald, who is at The Showroom tonight for an Off the Shelf event.

He has written 10 Intercrime (A Team) novels, as they are known in Swedish, and a spin-off Opcop Quartet. The TV series was based on the first five books but only three of them have been translated into English, the latest, To the Top of the Mountain, just out.

“When I started in the mid Nineties there was no interest in Britain or anywhere in the English-speaking world,” he says. “In a way it was good that it took some time to be translated because when they came out they fell on fertile ground.”

That was the popularity of what has become known as Nordic noir pioneered by detective series Martin Beck and Wallander and then Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

“It is a third crime tradition after the British and American traditions,” continues the writer. “It’s political and deals with contemporary issues and reflects the changes in Swedish society.

Filming of a second series of Arne Dahl has begun. “I was on the set only yesterday,” reports the writer. “I supervise the scripts but I don’t have much involvement.”