DVD Review: Maigret Sets a Trap, Maigret and the St. Fiacre Affair, Maigret Sees Red

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Renowned French film star’s Maigret trilogy.

Despite being largely unknown to English audiences, Jean Gabin was one of French cinema’s biggest stars. The son of music hall artistes, he initially had no interest in an acting career. After a period working as a labourer and warehouse clerk he was cajoled by his father to join the Folies Bergère. Graduating from bit-parts to a leading man, he demonstrated an ability to play a wide variety of roles. He started a screen career at the dawn of the talking picture era.

A commanding screen actor, he appeared in 95 films in a career that lasted over 40 years. Performances in Pepe Le Moko, La Grande Illusion, La Bete Humaine, Le Jour se leve, and Le Quai des brumes were critically acclaimed. One of the pre-war period’s biggest stars, his career’s trajectory was interrupted when hostilities erupted across the continent.

In stark contrast to Georges Simenon, Gabin refused to collaborate with the Nazi regime’s film industry. Relocating to Hollywood, he was offered a contract by Twentieth Century Fox and promoted as “The Spencer Tracy of French pictures.” An artistically fruitless period, he made Moontide for Fox and The Imposter for RKO. A third project, The Temptress, was canceled when he demanded that the producers cast Marlene Detrich as his co-star (Gabin and Dietrch were real-life lovers). Told that he would never again work in Hollywood, Gabin enlisted in the French liberation forces and fought against German troops in Africa.

At the end of the war, he returned to acting. No longer a matinee idol, he played a succession of everyman parts. Gabin and Simenon’s careers first intersected with the 1950 adaptation La Marie du port. A 1958 film En cas de malheur based on Simenon’s romans dur In Case of Emergency saw Gabin act alongside Brigitte Bardot. Also released in the same year was the first of Gabin’s three cinematic outings as Simenon’s pipe smoking Inspector Maigret.

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Despite being maligned by the French new wave, Jean Delannoy directed a number of box-office hits and won the Palme d’Or for his 1960 film La Symphonie pastorale. He was made an officer of the Legion of Honor, a Commander of Arts and Letters and a Commander of the National Order of Merit. In 1986 he received an honorary César. Paying tribute to Delannoy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the director as “More than just a great artist, he was a man of great intelligence, alert, pertinent and faithful in friendship,”

By the late 1950s, Delannoy’s reputation had been tarnished by a string of sub-standard films and criticism by François Truffaut. Attuned to the cinematic possibilities of Maigret the director had considered adapting a Simenon novel for several years before securing the cinematic rights to Maigret Sets a Trap. With a reputation for directing solid thrillers including Le garçon sauvage and La minute de vérité, he may have considered an adaptation as an opportunity to restore his box-office fortunes.

First published in 1955. The English translation of Maigret Sets a Trap was issued in 1965. The book has been adapted several times. A recent version starring Rowan Atkinson was poorly received by critics. Delannoy’s version is the most satisfying adaptation.

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Primarily known in English-speaking territories as Maigret Sets a Trap, prints were circulated with the alternate titles Inspector Maigret and Woman-Bait. The film and its two sequels were the last big screen outings for Simenon’s detective released prior to the character migrating to the small screen.

An atmospheric adaptation blessed with supreme production design. Indebted to Film Noir and aware of the urban environment’s importance in the Maigret novels, the director ensured the film made the story’s location the de facto star. An entire district was slavishly on a soundstage. The decision to shoot the majority of the action on a studio lot enabled the director to exercise total control over the environment.

Hybridising American and French approaches to crime films, Delannoy’s location sequences employ expressionistic camera angles favoured by Film Noir directors and attempts to document a city still scarred by war and in the throes of modernisation.

Claustrophobic, tightly coiled and utterly focused, it’s hard to see why Delannoy’s film isn’t better known in the English-speaking world. Maigret Sets a Trap is sensitive to the humanistic philosophy expressed in Simenon’s novels. The film has many reasons to recommend tracking down a copy; tight plotting, thematic complexity, a distinguished supporting cast. At it’s core is an electric portrayal from one of French cinema’s most popular actors. Stripping away the over reliance of props that had plagued previous attempts at filming Maigret, Gabin’s performance conveyed compassion and solidity. Simenon was pleased with Gabin’s interpretation and is alleged to have suggested that future Maigret novels might be influenced by the performance.

A box office hit in France, Maigret Sets a Trap was seen by more than 2,500,000 cinemagoers. It was nominated for a BAFTA and won an Edgar Allan Poe award. The film’s producers commissioned a sequel to satisfy a public clamouring for further cinematic adaptations. Released in 1959, Maigret and the St. Fiacre Affair is considered by critics to be a less successful film. Adapted from a novel first published in 1933, the film contains a number of elements that will delight Maigret enthusiasts and Simenonologists.

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Leaving behind the first film’s urban environment, the sequel relocates to a small village. Maigret is visiting his childhood home at the request of the Duchess of Saint-Fiacre. She has recently received an anonymous letter stating that she will soon die. When she suffers a fatal heart attack during a religious service the local doctor pronounces she died of natural causes. Maigret is not satisfied with the diagnosis and is convinced the Duchess was murdered.

Tonally very different from its predecessor, the portrait of a once-great family in decline is indebted to Agatha Christie and Citizen Kane. Delannoy once again demonstrating a sympathy for themes present in the originating novel, effectively balances moments of joy and intensity.

Jean Gabin played Maigret one final time in the disappointing Maigret Sees Red. Jean Delannoy declined an offer to return to direct and was replaced by Gilles Grangier. Released in the UK shortly after the finale of the BBC’s highly-praised adaptation featuring Rupert Davies, Grangier’s film was largely ignored. Gabin’s performance is not enough to save the film. Not entirely unwatchable, it suffers from having a director too much in awe of American B-pictures and a lack of enthusiasm for the work of Georges Simenon. Jean Gabin’s Maigret deserved a better final investigation.

Maigret Sets a Trap, Maigret and the St. Fiacre Affair,  and Maigret Sees Red are available to order from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Maigret-Sets-Trap-Tend-Pi%C3%A8ge/dp/B00HAS22IS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474730330&sr=8-2&keywords=jean+gabin+maigret

https://www.amazon.com/Maigret-Fiacre-Affair-Laffaire-Saint-Fiacre/dp/B00BFIGRZ8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474730330&sr=8-1&keywords=jean+gabin+maigret

https://www.amazon.com/Maigret-Sees-Red-Voit-Rouge/dp/B01LOY123E/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1474730330&sr=8-3&keywords=jean+gabin+maigret

Book Review and Interview: The Angels of Hammurabi by Max Seeck

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Turbo-charged thriller.

The Finnish government is sent into a state of near-panic when a member of its diplomatic staff vanishes. The only clue to Jare Westerlund’s disappearance is a series of anonymous threats sent before he went on holiday.

Frustrated with the local police force’s lack of progress, the Finnish government dispatches armed forces specialist Daniel Kuisma and Foreign Affairs Ministry assistant, Annika Lehto to Zagreb. Investigating the missing employee’s trail they uncover a tangled web of secrets.

Former peacekeeper, Daniel served in Croatia during the Yugoslav wars. As the investigation intensifies, dark secrets from his past impact upon the present. During the war he served in secret military campaigns. He soon learns that everyone who participated in the missions is in danger. Daniel is racing against time to discover who is murdering his former colleagues before he becomes the next victim.

Max Seeck’s debut novel is an atmospheric, intense, and cinematic thriller. Masterfully plotted, The Angels of Hammurabi plunges the reader into a dark world where nothing is what it seems. With curveballs hitting the reader at breakneck speed, the author ensures that the book’s ingenious conclusion is dazzling and unexpected. A promising start to a new Nordic thriller series.

Impressed with The Angels of Hammurabi I spoke to Max Seeck about the book and his future plans.

Did you always want to be a writer?

‘My initial dream job has been a movie director and / or screenplay writer. But I guess I’ve been driven by my personal need to tell a story, come up with interesting characters, events and plots and gather them into an experience. Make people react, feel and experience new things.’

What inspired you to write about a former peacekeeper investigating a missing person case in the Balkans?

‘Well, a former peacekeeper suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder is unique for one thing. The crime thriller scene has witnessed an alcoholic policeman, autistic female detective, hallucinating investigators just to name a few. They are all smart and ingenious in their own way. I wanted to create a protagonist with an original background. Also having experienced a battle combat means that he must have seen and experienced a lot of awful things – killing people – without being truly evil.’

History and sense of place is very important in The Angels of Hammurabi. How thoroughly did you research events and regions?

‘I began the writing process during a vacation in Croatia. Many events take place in locations I’ve personally been to. We also made a trip to Mostar, Bosnia and walked around the city with a tour guide. She told us about the war – how it was then and how it still affects thousands of lives in the region. However, many places, historical events and details were researched with the help of Google Maps and Wikipedia articles. I cannot even imagine how much more difficult doing a research for a book must have been 20 years ago.’

The Angels of Hammurabi feels very international in tone. Were you writing for a global audience?

‘As a matter of fact I was. I admire Nordic thriller novelists such as Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson – just to name a few – and I think they have done a wonderful job creating an atmosphere where nothing is too localized. You have people of different nationalities and places from all over the world. Also – if you want to make your living writing novels, you cannot rely too much on the relatively small population of Finland. Obviously the goal is to raise interest also in the surrounding countries and have the novel translated into many languages. Having an international tone doesn’t hurt here.’

How long did it take you to write the novel?

‘I started writing in 2013. The first two years I wrote whenever I had time – basically a few evenings a week. I had a few longer breaks – there was a time when I didn’t write for nine months. Most of the non-writing periods were due to my struggle with my own fears and frustration – what if nobody wants to publish this? Is the manuscript even any good? Am I wasting my time?’

Is there much of you in Daniel Kuisma?

‘Despite the things he has done in the past, Daniel is a good guy. And I’d like to see myself as a good guy too. I guess that’s pretty much it. Daniel – just like anybody else – is far from perfect. I hate characters that have no flaws. And I don’t trust people who are making a lot of effort to hide theirs. I think that there’s nothing as beautiful and genuine in a human being as one’s undisguised imperfection.’

Was Annika Lehto modeled on someone you know?

‘In the book she’s described as “young Cameron Diaz”. But on the other hand she looks a lot like someone who’s very close to me. However, her actions and thoughts have no real life source.’

Do you have any thoughts about Nordic crime fiction’s continued popularity all over the world?

‘I think Scandinavian authors and publishing houses have done an amazing job by elevating Nordic crime fiction as a household concept around the world. I think however, that the Nordic scene constantly needs new players to keep it fresh and on its toes. Now it’s time for Finnish authors to really join the club. Because despite of speaking and writing in a language nobody understands, we have amazing – and believe it or not – sometimes even darker stories to tell.’

Who are your favourite authors?

‘Am I being boring if I say there are so many? Within the crime thriller genre I admire authors such as Stieg Larsson, Jens Lapidus, Jo Nesbo and Dan Brown. The Swedish couple that goes by the name of Lars Kepler also writes great books. I’d also like to mention inspiring authors such as George Orwell, Mario Puzo and Kurt Vonnegut.’

Are you going to write a sequel to The Angels of Hammurabi?

‘Most definitely. I have started the writing process.’

What advice would you give to someone writing their first novel?

‘I’m not sure anyone should give advice after having one published novel. However, I can think of one thing that kept me writing even at times it felt desperate and pointless. Be determined. Once you have decided to write a book, don’t let any excuse or anybody else to stop you from doing so. You need to have the compelling need to finish what you started. Whether your book will be published or not, not finishing your manuscript will haunt you forever. Take your time and enjoy the process. It’s never fast or easy. Writing Angels of Hammurabi took me three years. And most of the time I just loved writing it.’

Thanks to Max Seeck and Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency.

Max Seeck is published by Tammi.

Max Seeck is represented by Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency.

Max Seeck
Max Seeck

Desert Island DVDs: David Swatling

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Native New Yorker David Swatling studied theatre at Syracuse University. After graduation, he embarked on a career in the theatre. Over the course of a decade, he acted in numerous off-Broadway productions. His final acting role on American soil was an appearance in Madonna’s breakout feature film Desperately Seeking Susan.

Relocating to Amsterdam in 1985, he continued to work as an actor and produced arts and culture programming for Radio Netherlands. He has won multiple awards including the NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Award.

David’s first novel, Calvin’s Head, was published in 2010. A hugely entertaining suspense-filled mystery. The book is a refreshingly different take on the genre. Stream-of-consciousness prose, murder, romance, and a dog feature in a book which defies categorisation.

An incisive and enlightening speaker, David will once again be a panellist at Iceland Noir.

Taking time out from a return visit to his homeland, David talked about his castaway classics.

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Don’t Look Now (UK, Italy, 1973)

‘No film has quite disturbed me more than Nicholas Roeg’s 1973 psychological thriller adapted from a short story by Daphne du Maurier. I remember leaving the London movie theatre where I saw it with a knot in my stomach that kept me awake all night. Brilliant performances by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, as a married couple who travel to Venice after the accidental drowning of their young daughter, combined with Roeg’s haunting images and fluid timeline, made an indelible impression on my twenty-one year old psyche. So much so that upon visiting Venice nearly forty years later, I kept catching glimpses of a small figure in a red raincoat disappearing around corners.’

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Spoorloos (The Vanishing) (Netherlands, France, 1988)

‘Stanley Kubrick called Dutch director George Sluizer’s 1988 film the most terrifying thriller he’d ever seen. Based on a novel by Tim Krabbé, it’s the story of a young Dutch couple on vacation in France. Stopping at a rest area, the woman disappears and her frantic husband spends years trying to discover what happened to her. The viewer already knows but the suspense becomes unbearable when the husband meets the abductor, who offers a bizarre proposal. The unusual structure and philosophical tone of the film make it far superior to an American remake, which Sluizer also directed.’

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La mala educación (Bad Education) (Spain, 2004)

‘Could I have a box-set of all Perdro Almodovar’s films, please? If not, I’ll choose this one—a stylized murder mystery with LGBT characters, combining my two favorite literary genres. The plot is multilayered and complex, including a story within a story, shifting identities, and another fluid timeline. Do you see a pattern emerging here? It’s all holds together with a powerful performance by Gael Garcia Bernal, who I wouldn’t mind accompanying me on that desert island.’

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La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (France, 1946)

‘Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of the classic 18th century fairy tale could also be considered a thriller. The dialogue is kept to a minimum and the visuals are magical, not to mention a beautifully haunting score by Georges Auric. The overall effect is dream-like, in the best and scariest ways.’

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Cinema Paradiso (Italy, 1988)

‘I must admit, I had to look up the director’s name of this 1988 Acadamy Award winning film. Giuseppi Tornatore. A romantic love story to the movies—mostly told from a young boy’s point of view—it made me laugh, cry, and cheer at the end. Oh, that final montage! I could watch it over and over and over again. So I have to wonder, why has it been so long since I’ve seen this utterly delightful film?’

Thanks to David Swatling and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

David Swatling is published by Bold Strokes Books.

Desert Island DVDs – Susan Moody

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Former chairperson of the Crime Writer’s Association, Susan Moody has also served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers. Over the course of a remarkably productive career she has authored 29 novels. Her debut Penny Black is listed in the Crime Writers’ Association’s Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. Six foot tall Penny is an amateur detective, globe-trotting photographer and the daughter of a UN Ambassador. Susan wrote seven novels featuring Penny Wanawake. Williams & Whiting has reissued all seven titles in the series.

In 1993 Susan Moody introduced readers to expert bridge player Cassie Swann. A feisty amateur sleuth, Cassie investigated murders in Oxford, the surrounding areas, and the village of Bellington.

After producing six outings for Swann, Susan Moody has written standalone crime fiction, historical novels, romance, the sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Love Over Gold, a best-selling novel inspired by Nestle’s soap-opera style commercials.

Susan is a member of the prestigious Detection Club and co-founder of Kent based festival Deal Noir. A long-term supporter of Iceland Noir, she generously agreed to talk about her Desert Island DVDs.

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The Bicycle Thieves (Italy, 1948)

‘In earlier years, when the cinema was only just beginning to be recognized as an art form, I spent a lot of time watching film.  This examination of post-WW2 city life in Rome resonated and does so still.  It still jerks tears, even just reading the title. Ricci, with a family to support, terrified of falling through the cracks, finally gets a job, only to have his bicycle, sole means of transport, stolen.  What to do? Become a thief himself?  Marvellous.’

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Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (France, 1953)

‘How we loved this gentle film about an awkward and unassuming Frenchman going on holiday to the seaside.  Comedy at its sweetest.  No slapstick, just a series of small vignettes where inept Monsieur Hulot has to extricate himself from one slightly embarrassing situation after another.’

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Jules et Jim (France, 1962) 

‘Innovative, charming and sinister, this love triangle still captivates.  Jeanne Moreau was gorgeous, caught between her two men.  I’ve watched this so many times and it never fails to delight.’

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sweden, 2009)

‘Edgy, ugly and utterly compelling.  Lisbeth Salander, the female lead, is uncompromising, unforgiving and  unforgettable.  Deeply damaged, suffering from a form of Asperger’s, she is a gifted hacker and here finds herself teamed with a male journalist facing prison, in an attempt to resolve the disappearance of a young girl forty years ago.  I could watch this again and again.’

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Trapped (Iceland, 2015) 

‘This TV series from Iceland, is truly gripping.  Claustrophobic, complicated, it deals with an ugly crime in the north of the country cut off from the rest of the world by an avalanche, pack ice and a lot of snow.  Absolutely brilliant in its depiction of a small community where ordinary people are trying to live ordinary lives but find themselves caught up in extraordinary events, rocked by corruption,  betrayal, murder and sex-trafficking.’

Thanks to Susan Moody, Mike Linane, and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

Susan Moody’s Penny Wanawake series is published by Williams & Whiting.

Desert Island DVDs – Michael Ridpath

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Before becoming a writer, Michael Ridpath used to work as a bond trader in the City of London. After writing eight financial thrillers, which were published in over 30 languages, he began the “Fire and Ice” series, featuring the Icelandic detective Magnus Jonson. He has also written two spy novels set at the beginning of World War II. He is a frequent visitor to Iceland and an enthusiastic participator in Iceland Noir.

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Borgen (Denmark, 2010 -13)

‘I don’t understand why I like Borgen. It’s about party politics in one of Europe’s dullest political systems, it’s about pig farming regulations and shifts in minor party coalitions. The female protagonist juggles her job with getting her kids’ homework in on time. A journalist can’t decide whether to take another job or not. How humdrum can you get? Yet for some reason, I absolutely loved Borgen.

The series follows the career of Birgitte Nyborg, the fictional first female prime minister of Denmark. It is superbly acted and written; there is something about the relatively clean and dull background of Danish politics that puts all the political shenanigans into stark relief. The characters seem much more realistic and easy to identify with than, say, The West Wing or House of Cards, excellent though both of those series are. Somehow this makes the viewer care more about them. “Borgen” is the nickname for Denmark’s Parliament building, by the way.’

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Rams (Iceland, 2015)

‘This is a 2015 Icelandic film brilliantly directed by Grímur Hákonarson, who owns a nifty little flat cap. It concerns two grey-bearded brothers, Gummi and Kiddi, whose sheep farms are next door to each other, but who haven’t spoken for decades. They communicate by sheepdog messenger. When there is an outbreak of scrapie in their dale, the vet orders their ancestral flock to be destroyed and the brothers are almost forced to work together to save their sheep.

This is shot on a very low budget with actors who are so authentic that they look like amateurs, but aren’t. There are wonderful views of wide dales, and some great sheep scenes. The traditional Icelandic characteristics of hardiness, toughness, self reliance and unbending stubbornness are here in spades. It is Halldór Laxness’s Independent People for the twenty-first century. I was brought up in the Yorkshire dales and I like sheep, so I loved this film.’

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Deutschland 83 (Germany, 2015)

‘This German series concerned two subjects I have considered writing novels about in the past: East Germany and the nuclear standoff in 1983, when the world was almost as close to blowing itself up as in 1963. Moritz Stamm is a 23 year old East German Stasi agent who travels to the west standing in for a murdered aide to a West German general. Deutschland 83 shows the startling differences between east and west at the time, and also the similar impulses of disgruntled youth on both sides of the iron curtain. It’s also really exciting as our hero uses the traditional techniques of creeping around offices at night and bonking secretaries to discover cruise missile secrets. I am surprised the producers allowed the writer to get away with the massive holes in the plot, for example the way Stamm can pass himself off as a graduate of West German military college yet not find his way around a western supermarket. But I’m glad they left the holes in, because it makes the series much more exciting.’

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Pressa (Iceland, 2007 – 16)

‘I need an obscure Icelandic TV series (at least to non-Icelanders) and this is my choice. Pressa is a drama series about a tabloid newspaper in Iceland, which lurches from dodgy headline to dodgy headline. The heroine, Lara, is a single mother, desperate to keep her job on the paper and to fend off the unwelcome advances of her bosses. Pressa is fast paced and tense. The temptation to compete for the bottom in gutter journalism is universal, as is the corporate corruption. Pressa perfectly sums up how Reykjavík is a both a dull small town and also one of the most extraordinary cities on earth. It’s the kind of series that makes you wish that Hampstead Garden suburb (where I live) had its own little lava field. But it doesn’t. Which is why I write about Iceland instead. I bought my copy, in Icelandic with English subtitles, in a bookshop in Reykjavík.’

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Yes Minister (UK, 1980 – 88)

‘I think I’m allowed one British choice. Or am I? After Brexit, does a British TV series from the 80s count as European? After Brexit, we all need to watch Yes Minister. It is a timeless comedy from the 1980s, where Sir Humphrey Appleby, a senior civil servant, spars with Jim Hacker, the Minister for Administrative Affairs, whose sporadic displays of eagerness to get things done, are cleverly disrupted by Sir Humphrey and the forces of inertia. It’s what I watch when my wife is out, I am feeling a bit glum and I am too tired to read. I suspect it is also being watched at the moment by today’s British civil servants as they seek inspiration to preserve the status quo in a country where – let’s be honest – nobody has a clue what they are doing. There is so much here for the rest of Europe to learn from us.’

Thanks to Michael Rodpath and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

Michael Ridpath is published by Corvus

Desert Island DVDs – Kati Hiekkapelto

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Flying the flag for Finnish literature, Kati Hiekkapelto’s uncompromising politically charged novels have been nominated for the Petrona Award and the Glass Key. Her second novel The Defenceless has won Finland’s Best Crime Novel of the Year award.

Ahead of her appearance at Iceland Noir, Orenda will be publishing The Exiled. A potently chilling thriller, it will undoubtedly solidify Kati’s reputation as one of contemporary Nordic Noir’s edgiest novelists.

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The Punk Syndrome (Finland, 2012)

‘A documentary of my favourite punk band, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. It is a film about punk music, punk attitude, disabled people and their rights to be equal in the world where everyone should be productive, healthy and beautiful.’

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Punk – tauti joka ei tapa, Punksters and Youngsters (Finland, 2008)

‘Another punk documentary from Finland. It tells the history of Finnish punk and makes me want to be young again.’

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Into Great Silence (France, Switzerland, Germany 2005)

‘One more documentary, this time about silence. Chartusian monks living in Grande Chartreuse monastery in France don´t talk too much. This beautiful, peaceful film gives a rare view to their ascetic and silent life and appeals to me deeply. Filmed without a crew and artificial lights the picture is hypnotic and tranquil. Complete opposite to the lives I, we, live and yet so full of meaning and presence. The director Philip Gröning approached the monastery in 1984 and got the answer: we are not ready for the filming yet. Sixteen years later he got a letter again: we are ready now.

I would call this a true slow life’.

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Ronja Rövarsdottir, Ronia The Robber´s Daughter (Sweden, 1984)

‘I grew up with Ronia, Pippi, Emil and other characters created by Astrid Lindgren and I am sure that her books are one reason to the so called Nordic wellfare and equality.

Ronia is a story about friendship, love, family, justice and nature. Landscape in deep Swedish forests is just stunning. Sometimes, when I go into the forest I can hear ”Ajattara” (a spirit known in Swedish and Finnish mytology as a Devil of the Woods) screaming just like in Ronia-film.’

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Outlander (UK, USA 2014-16)

‘I had to get one new series here and it definitely is Outlander! I am completely hooked. I have always thought that Scottish men are hot but now I drool over them. Haha!’

Thanks to Kati Hiekkapelto and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

Kati Hiekkapelto is published by Orenda

Desert Island DVDs – Leena Lehtolainen

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Two-times winner of Finland’s Whodunit Society’s annual prize for the best crime novel, Leena Lehtolainen’s books have been translated into 29 languages.

Embarking on a literary career at a very young age, her first book was published when she was 12. She has been a professional author since 1993.

Best-known for the Inspector Maria Kallio novels, Leena Lehtolainen’s writing has been acclaimed in her homeland for introducing a female perspective to what had had previously been a male dominated genre.

Alongside the ongoing Maria Kallio series Leena Lehtolainen has also written a trilogy featuring bodyguard Hilja Ilveskero.

Regularly compared to Henning Mankel, Leena Lehtolainen’s novels are a regular fixture at the top of Finland’s bestseller charts. She has been nominated for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel.

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Brideshead Revisited (UK, 1981)

‘I love Evelyn Waugh’s original novel, but it is amazing, how good the TV version is. It shows the complexity of the world it describes, and forces the watcher to ponder her relationship with faith. The cast is amazing, and I really enjoy the slow tempo of everything.’

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Pride and Prejudice (UK, 1995)

‘I have been a die-hard Jane Austen fan since early teen years. This TV series has been classing from its premiere. It is humorous and entertaining, but the undercurrent is sarcastic and dark – money ruled society 200 years ago, as it does now. Jennifer Ehle has enough temperament for Elizabeth, and poor Colin Firth will always be THE Mr. Darcy for most of us.’

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In Bruges (UK, 2008)

‘I like my humour dark, and this really satisfies my needs. The crazy story of the hit job gone wrong and two contract killers hiding in Bruges is hilarious in many ways. The poor Londoners Ray and Ken feel that they are in the middle of nowhere in idyllic Bruges, and Ralph Fiennes surprises us all in the final scenes. I really must visit Bruges one day.’

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The Hunt (Denmark, 2012)

‘The Danish director Thomas Vinterberg shows us how the untruths and lies are constructed. In The Hunt, an innocent man is accused of being a paedophile, and even his nearest get against him. While sexually using kids is a disgusting crime, the witch-hunt which Lucas faces, is also very scary. I am from a small village myself and could imagine this happening here, too. Lucas is played by the marvellous Mads Mikkelsen, one of the greatest Nordic actors of our time.’

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The Fencer (Finland, 2015)

‘This Finnish-Estonian-German co-operation is filmed mostly in Estonia and tells the true story of Endel Neelis, who escapes the Soviet police from Leningrad to Haapsalu, Estonia and starts teach fencing for the kids there. This movie is all about atmosphere and good acting, and the Estonian language spoken in the film is so beautiful and expressive. Big kudos to young Liisa Koppel, who plays Marta.’

Thanks to Leena Lehtolainen, Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency, and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

Leena Lehtolainen is published by Amazon Crossing