Petrona Award 2015 – Shortlist

Petrona Logo 9

Books from Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have been nominated for the 2015 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

Now in its third year, the Petrona Awards commemorates the pioneering work of Maxine Clarke who was one of the first bloggers to write about Scandinavian crime fiction. The award is open to English language translated Scandinavian fiction published in the previous twelve months fiction and novels set in Scandinavia.

The nominees are:

THE HUMMINGBIRD by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Arcadia Books; Finland)

THE HUNTING DOGS by Jørn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)

REYKJAVIK NIGHTS by Arnaldur Indriðason tr. Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker; Iceland)

THE HUMAN FLIES by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle; Norway)

FALLING FREELY, AS IF IN A DREAM by Leif G W Persson tr. Paul Norlen (Doubleday; Sweden)

THE SILENCE OF THE SEA Yrsa Sigurðardóttir tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)

This year’s winner will be at the announced at the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 14-17 May 2015. Godmother of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, Maj Sjöwall, co-author with Per Wahlöö of the Martin Beck series, will present the award.

Previous winners of the Petrona Award are Liza Marklund for Last Will, translated by Neil Smith and Linda, As in the Linda Murder by Leif G W Persson also translated by Neil Smith.

Nordic Noir expert Barry Forshaw said “The Petrona Award goes from strength to strength, with both winners and shortlisted authors representing the very finest in the Nordic Noir genre; I’m pleased to be involved.”

The judges’ comments on the shortlist:


THE HUMMINGBIRD: Kati Hiekkapelto’s accomplished debut introduces young police investigator Anna Fekete, whose family fled to Finland during the Yugoslavian wars. Paired with an intolerant colleague, she must solve a complex set of murders and the suspicious disappearance of a young Kurdish girl. Engrossing and confidently written, THE HUMMINGBIRD is a police procedural that explores contemporary themes in a nuanced and thought-provoking way.


THE HUNTING DOGS: The third of the William Wisting series to appear in English sees Chief Inspector Wisting suspended from duty when evidence from an old murder case is found to have been falsified. Hounded by the media, Wisting must now work under cover to solve the case and clear his name, with the help of journalist daughter Line. Expertly constructed and beautifully written, this police procedural showcases the talents of one of the most accomplished authors of contemporary Nordic Noir.


REYKJAVIK NIGHTS: A prequel to the series featuring detective Erlendur Sveinsson, REYKJAVIK NIGHTS gives a snapshot of 1970s Iceland, with traditional culture making way for American influences. Young police officer Erlendur takes on the ‘cold’ case of a dead vagrant, identifying with a man’s traumatic past. Indriðason’s legion of fans will be delighted to see the gestation of the mature Erlendur; the novel is also the perfect starting point for new readers of the series.


THE HUMAN FLIES: Hans Olav Lahlum successfully uses elements from Golden Age detective stories to provide a 1960s locked-room mystery that avoids feeling like a pastiche of the genre. The writing is crisp and the story intricately plotted. With a small cast of suspects, the reader delights in following the investigations of Lahlum’s ambitious detective Kolbjørn Kristiansen, who relies on the intellectual rigour of infirm teenager Patricia Borchmann.


FALLING FREELY, AS IF IN A DREAM: It’s 2007 and the chair of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Lars Martin Johansson, has reopened the investigation into the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme. But can he and his dedicated team really solve this baffling case? The final part of Persson’s ‘The Story of a Crime’ trilogy presents the broadest national perspective using a variety of different techniques – from detailed, gritty police narrative to cool documentary perspective – to create a novel that is both idiosyncratic and highly compelling.


THE SILENCE OF THE SEA: Yrsa Sigurðardóttir has said ‘I really love making people’s flesh creep!’, and she is the supreme practitioner when it comes to drawing on the heritage of Icelandic literature, and channelling ancient folk tales and ghost stories into a vision of modern Icelandic society. In SILENCE OF THE SEA, an empty yacht crashes into Reykjavik’s harbour wall: its Icelandic crew and passengers have vanished. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir investigates this puzzling and deeply unsettling case, in a narrative that skilfully orchestrates fear and tension in the reader.

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DVD Review: Hostages – The Complete Season One


A family is caught up in a maelstrom of chaos in the tension-filled Israeli thriller series Hostages. Loyalties are stretched to breaking point as deceit and subterfuge is exposed and the boundaries between right and wrong become blurred in a high octane slice of Noir.

Making history by being the first Israeli series to air on BBC, Hostages comes hot on the heels of Sky Atlantic’s Prisoners of War, signaling that Israel television is flourishing and now ready to compete on equal terms with Scandinavian and American productions.


In the all-important market of format sales interest in Hebrew TV programmes is at an all-time high. Homeland, a remake of Prisoners of War, will air its fifth season later in 2015 and In Treatment, an adaptation of BeTipul, was a critical success that won Emmy Awards and Golden Globes

Rights to another series Yellow Peppers has been bought by the BBC, a remake is currently in production. HBO is developing an American version of the warm drama House of Wishes.

With media execs studying Israeli TV schedules for projects that could be redeveloped for an English speaking audience, it was inevitable that Hollywood would come calling once the cameras started rolling on Hostages. Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Pirates of the Caribbean) bought the rights to make an American version while the original was still in production. Billed as a ‘new 24’ the remake starred Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding, The Sixth Sense).

Expanded to fifteen episodes the American version which aired on Channel 4 introduced new characters and added subplots. A bloated remake lacking the original’s punch it underperformed in the ratings and was canceled after a single season.


Now available on DVD, the Israeli original is a pacey pared to the bone thriller. Winner in the category of Best International Drama Series at the 54th Golden Nymph Awards, Hostages offers an addictive rush of tension, plot twists, and shadowy motivations.

Hostages proves that like its Nordic counterpart, Hebrew Noir excels at crafting strong female characters. Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel, Angels & Demons) plays eminent heart surgeon Dr Yael Danon. Head-hunted to perform a routine bypass operation on the Prime Minister. A career-high becomes a nightmare when her family is held hostage and threatened with execution unless she kills the Prime Minister.

Faced with a seemingly unsolvable moral dilemma, Yael must choose between saving her family or the Prime Minister. Unwilling to accept the situation on her captor’s terms she is resolved to freeing her family and ensuring that nobody dies on her operating table.

A tight family unit splinters once secrets and lies start to unravel leaving Yael unsure of who she can trust. Her husband has made some poor investments and tried to hide an eviction notice. Assaf, a hormonally charged teenage son has been hacking into the school’s computer, accessing exam papers to impress a girl in his class. Noa, Yael’s daughter, is pregnant.


Taut character-driven drama that piles on layer upon layer of pressure before blindsiding the viewer with a succession of unexpected plot twists. Complex emotional scenes collide with operatic bursts of action to create overwhelming feelings of paranoia, claustrophobia, and euphoria. Nail biting stuff from the opening frames to the closing credits.

Hostages – The Complete Season One is available to order from Amazon.