Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to be a Swedish Crime Solver

I'm plowing through a lot of Swedish crime novels lately.  I tell myself it's because KT has asked me to help her write reviews for, but it's more out of a guilty perversion than anything.  I've come to realize that there are certain requirements to be an exemplary murder solver in Sweden.

1.  You must have an intense dislike for chain of command.  You must work best alone without a nosy son-of-a-bitch bureaucrat mucking things up with things like protocol and laws.  You must have an intensely antagonistic relationship with your direct report and be threatened with dismissal or criminal charges for your cavalier attitude.

2.  You must have a deep-lying psychological trauma that you live with daily but refuse to seek the help of a psychiatrist for even though everyone tells you to.  It will most likely involve the death of your parents or children and your sense of guilt over how they died, even though IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!  There will be an intelligent, incredibly beautiful psychiatrist who tries to figure you out and help you, but you must resist.  You will have a flirtatious relationship with her and you may quite possibly have sex with her.  The murder you are solving must somehow conjure up your personal demons and - consciously or not - you must believe that solving this murder will give you the inner peace you are so desperately lacking.

3.  Younger, incredibly beautiful, smart, charming women must find you irresistible.  You should have sex with several of them, but never commit because you are horrible at love and have many past experiences to prove it.  It's always your fault, and you are well aware that you are horrible, married to your job and can't be trusted.  None of these qualities should prevent you from having sex with these incredibly hot women.  After all, they are throwing themselves at you.

4.  You should have a friend from your police academy days you have a mutual respect for but haven't talked to since your days at the academy.  This friend will be able to provide you invaluable help to solve the murder.  Seriously, as soon as the murder occurs, call this person!  There is no reason to wait until halfway through the book.  Calling him/her immediately will help you solve this murder much sooner.  If you don't have such a friend, a retired detective who was your mentor will suffice.

5.  You must follow a hunch at least once and have it go horribly, horribly wrong.  Either someone must be injured (but never killed) or the police, and your asshole boss (see number one), must be publicly embarrassed and ridiculed in the press.  And, speaking of the press, you must have an awful relationship with them (unless, of course, you are an investigative reporter instead of a cop).  The massive screw-up should have you removed from the case/story, whereupon you should resign or threaten to resign to solve the case on your own.

6.  You must capture the killer alone, without help, and incur great physical harm while doing so.  You must overcome seemingy insurmountable odds to capture the killer.  The killer may or may not die - either is fine.  You should call for back up, but there must be circumstances that require you to confront the killer alone before help gets there.

7.  All of the above must be accomplished in no less than 400 pages.

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