mandag den 27. april 2009

The Glass Key - a historical overview

The Glass Key has been awarded by the SKS/CWS since 1992. A new link has been added to the list of links on the right-hand sidebar of this blog, leading you to a list of all winners and nominees.
All corrections and/or comments are welcome, but have to be made here, as comments are not allowed on the Glass Key-site.

fredag den 24. april 2009

And the nominees are...

So, here we are. In a little more than a month from now (may 29th), the Glass key 2009 will be handed over to the winner in the Nordic House in Reykjavík. All the nominees have been invited, and each and every one of them has accepted the invitation.
The first time all the nominees were present was at the SKS-AGM in Iceland 2004, and again, we got them all to show up in Copenhagen in 2005. And now for the third time, the whole gang will be present. It's an honour and a pleasure to welcome them all, and their presence and participation will undoubtedly make the joint AGM's of SKS and AIEP an even more memorable event than it otherwise would have been.

Last year, Stieg Larssons third and last novel about the adventures of Kalle Blomquist and Lisbeth Salander, Luftslottet som sprängdes, was awarded the Glass key - the first novel in the millenium-series having been awarded the key back in 2006.
Who will receive it this year? Let's look at the candidates. (As the Glass-key-ceremony will be a part of the international conference "The Nordic Crime wave", which again is integrated into the double AGM's of both AIEP and SKS, this post - just like others leading up to this event - will be in english, to the benefit of our colleagues joining us from all around the world.)

The Danish crime academy awarded the Harald Mogensen-award for the best danish crime/suspense novel to Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis for their novel Drengen i kufferten (e: The boy in the suitcase (People’s Press). In this story, Kaaberbøl and Friis introduce the Red-Cross nurse Nina Borg, who seems to have everything a serial hero can wish for. In the danish jury's words, their novel is a "breath-taking and superbly written thriller, told with a fine sense of plot and detail. One can only look forward to accompanying Nina Borg in future adventures."
Anton Koch-Nielsen, a veteran on the Danish crime scene and a long time member of the Danish crime academy and its jury, describes the plot as follows:
"The main character, Nina Borg, is a nurse in a refugee-center. There - and in her former capacity as an employee of various humanitarian organizations operating all over the world - she has become all too familiar with the [danish] authorities ineffecivity, when it comes to people in distress. This in turn influences her behaviour and decisions when she picks up a suitcase for a friend and experiences the shock of discovering its content - a little boy, alive and - barely - kicking. Determinded to do the right thing, she sets out to find out who the boy is and where he comes from. The reader, however, knows the answer to this: He was kidnapped in Vilnius, Lithuania, where his mother has mounted a desperate search for her son. She discovers a lead, pointing to Denmark - and thus, two amateur detectives, so to speak, have got hold of two seperate threads of the mystery. It sounds complicated, but is, as it turns out, a brilliant ploy.
The story gets scarier as it goes on, especially after the friend who asked Nina to pick up the suitcase is brutally murdered, before Nina can ask her for an explanation..."
The authors, Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are both successful authors of books for children and teenagers. This is Friis's second book, but Kaaberbøl has sold millions of copies of her fantasy novels aimed at teenagers all over the world. The boy in the suitcase however, is their debut in the genre of adult crime.

Suomen dekkariseura, the Finnish Whodunnit Society, nominated Marko Kilpi, a novice in the field of crime-writing, for this years Glass-key, for his novel Jäätyneitä ruusuja, e: Frozen roses. But even if Kilpi is a newcomer in the world of fictitious crime, he is no stranger to the harsh realities of the criminal world, as he earns his living as a policeman.
This is also his hero's profession - although, fittingly enough, the tables have been turned in Kilpi's fictional world: The central character, Olli Repo, has recently quit his job as a writer in the advertising business, to join the police...
As a rookie and a trainee in the police-academy, he returns to his old home-town to learn the ropes of his new job under the guidance of his mentor, the chief of police back home. But once he's back, a series of mysterius crimes commences (involving a mysterious guy with a thing for explosives...), which demands more of his time than he can reasonably afford - because old family-business, preferably forgotten, inevitably comes up to the surface and demands a fair bit of attention now he's back at long last...
The finnish jury found Kilpi's story "surprisingly mature for a debut novel, tight in structure with a very plausible character description" The jury was also impressed by the fact that the novel's main character is not an experienced detective, "but a novice in his first job who makes almost all the mistakes a novice can make. He is, however, honest to himself and learns from his mistakes."

Beginner in the field, rookie, novice, debutant - none of this applies to this year's candidate from Iceland. On the contrary: Arnaldur Indriðason was the first writer to win the Glass key two times (and the only one to win it consecutively, Stieg Larssons two GK's were seperated by a year). The Icelandic Crime Syndicate proudly presents Arnaldurs Harðskafi, e: Hypothermia as the icelandic entry this year - in a bid for a record-breaking third Glass-key...
Awarding Arnaldur the recently established icelandic award for best crime-novel, Blóðdropinn (e: The drop of blood) in 2008, the jury reasoned as follows:
„This year's prize-winning novel is written by a well-trained storyteller. At first sight, it may not appear extraordinary, but the plot gets deeper and thicker by the page, as destinies of apparently unrelated characters intertwine and the main character discovers what he has been missing from his own life in the lives of others. And all the things he yearns for turn out to be what makes him an exceptional detective.
The novel Harðskafi is as deep as the lakes it describes; as vibrant with strong and diverse life as they are. But it is nowhere near as cold as the depths of the lakes are - on the contrary. It is aflame with strong emotion; love and faith, unfaithfullness and greed, ambition and injured pride."

This years winner of Riverton-klubbens (The Riverton Club's) prize, Den Gyldne Revolver (e: The golden revolver), is Vidar Sundstøl for his novel Drømmenes land, e: Land of dreams. The jury's reasoning goes approximately as follows:
The story is situated in an American, yet Norwegian-esque environment full of place-names such as Tofte, Hovland, Lutsen and Finland.
A young Norwegian on holiday is found murdered on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota, USA. Lance Hansen, of Norwegian ancestry, is an officer in the US Forest service. He discovers the body and becomes a central figure in the following murder-investigation.
With Lance Hansen, the author has invented a very authentic, convincing and complex character. A father of one son, Lance is divorced and has a volatile and ambiguous relationship with his own brother.
He gets involved in the investigation of the murder in a way he could never have imagined, and the reader gets a glimpse of a lonesome, sensitive man on the brink of an abyss he is all too well aware of.
A keen student of local history, Lance soon discovers similarities between the young Norwegian´s death and the strange disappearance of Swamper Caribou, an Ojibway-indian who walked these shores more than a hundred years earlier.
Before he knows it, Lance finds himself in a dilemma, where his immigrant ancestor's dark secrets - the ones he'd rather not know anything about, and those he's curious to discover - suddenly seem to be more relevant to the crime he's investigating than he's comfortable with...
In an intensive, authentic and thrilling novel, the author describes the main character's dilemma in a mileu full of suspense and mystery in fascinating social as well as natural surroundings.

Svenska Deckarakademin (The swedish crime-novel academy) has nominated Johan Theorin's second crime novel Nattfåk, e: Night Blizzard for the 2009 Glass Key-award.
Theorin is a journalist and writer by profession, living in Gothenburg but situating his novels in Öland, an island off the south-east coast of Sweden. Night blizzard is the "Winter-story" in a planned "Four-seasons" cycle.
A young couple buys the farm Åludden on the north-east corner of Öland, which used to be the residence of the keeper of the lighthouse of the same name. Legend has it that the house was built with the timbers of sunken ships - and therefore haunted by the ghosts of drowned sailors.
When the wife drowns, shortly after the couple move in, her husband grieves her but also senses her presence in the now empty house.
Tilda Davidson, the local police-constable, is not quite convinced that the drowning was accidental, but at the same time she has to deal with a small gang of petty thieves on a break-in spree - and try to end her relationship with her married lover.
Theorin builds the suspense and intrigue slowly but surely all the way to the end - with supernatural elements playing a tentative, but by no means verified - or verifiable - part in the investigation.