Best Scandi crime revealed in 2017 Petrona Award shortlist

Best Scandi crime revealed in 2017 Petrona Award shortlist

Six crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been shortlisted for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. 

The award, established to celebrate the work of the late Maxine Clarke, one of the first online crime fiction reviewers and bloggers, is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

The shortlist, revealed today (30th March), was judged by journalist Barry Forshaw, Dr Kat Hall, researcher at Swansea University, and novelist Sarah Ward. It includes two entries hailing from Finland, two from Norway, one from Sweden and one from Iceland.

Neil Smith, whose translations have won the Petrona Awards for the past two years running, translated two books on the shortlist: The Dying Detective by Leif G.W. Persson (Doubleday; Sweden), in which a retired Swedish police chief is drawn into investigating a cold case, and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (MacLehose Press, Finland), a novel set in 1938 Helsinki on the eve of the Second World War. The latter, by taking on a larger historical dimension, was described by the judges as offering "an insightful exploration into the legacy of the Finnish Civil War, and the rise of German and Finnish fascism in the present".

Half of the shortlist is published by Orenda Books: The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto, translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books, Finland), exploring discrimination faced by Roma people and the lot of refugees migrating through Europe; The Bird Tribunal, a "haunting" psychological thriller by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books, Norway) and Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett (Orenda Books, Norway), said to be written in the traditional US-style genre "but with abrasive Scandi-crime social commentary". 

Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton, Iceland), rounds off the shortlist, praised "a compelling exploration of guilt and retribution, which builds to a nerve-jangling finale." Sigur has won the award before for The Silence of the Sea, which was also translated by Cribb.

The judges commented: “It was difficult to choose just six crime novels for the Petrona Award shortlist this year, given the number of truly excellent submissions from around the Scandinavian world. Our 2017 Petrona Award shortlist testifies to the extremely high quality of translated Scandi crime, with authors from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden making expert use of police investigations, psychological thrillers, private eye novels and historical crime fiction both to entertain and to explore pertinent social, political and historical issues. We are extremely grateful to the translators for their skill and expertise in bringing us these outstanding examples of Scandinavian crime fiction.”

The winner of 2017 Petrona Award, sponsored by David Hicks, will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 20th May during the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 18th - 21st May 2017. The winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at the 2018 CrimeFest event.