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Lackberg and Leon: A Scandicrime vs Venetian Mystery Challenge

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jan 3, 12:49pm Top

This year we are going to read and compare and contrast the books of Camilla Lackberg, a Sweedish author, with those of Donna Leon, an American ex-patriot who lives in Venice and writes about La Serenissima. We will be alternating months starting with the Erica Falck and her partner Patrik Hedstrom series by Lackberg in January. Since several of us had read the first seven of the Guido Brunetti books last year we will be starting with book eight in that series by Leon in February. The Leon books have been around for some time, so we don't expect you to reread. If you have already read the book feel free to join in the conversation.

Readers do not have to read every book or make comments about every book. We like lurkers and hope that even if you don't post you will enjoy reading the books.

This is the schedule for the year.

January - Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
February - Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
March - Preacher by Camilla Lackberg
April - Friends in High Places by Donna Leon
May - Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg
June - Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
July - Gallows Bird alternate title Stranger by Camilla Lackberg
August - Willfull Behavior by Donna Leon
September - Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg
October - Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
November - Drowning by Camilla Lackberg
December - Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon

In total there are 10 of the Erica Falck and Patrick Hedstrom books. We will read the first 6 of them in 2019.

There are 28 of the Guido Brunetti books. We have read 7 of the titles in this series. If we add 6 more in 2019 we will be half done with this series.

According to WorldCat there are 1318 libraries world wide with the English version of the Ice Princess and 295 libraries with the sound recording version of the novel. There shouldn't be a problem with getting a copy of this one. I like to listen to mysteries as I drive so am thinking that I may try some of those during this coming year.

Edited: Jan 4, 12:36pm Top

For lack of a better title, or a better idea, I christened this challenge/thread: Lackberg and Leon: A Scandicrime vs Venetian Mystery Challenge. I thought about doing something with North vs. South or Hot and Cold Climes, but somehow it just didn't mesh. If one of you can come up with something let us know over on the new thread.

It is part of the 75 Books Challenge group.

Feel free to put these links on your threads and let people know what we are doing this year.

And now for a little information about Camilla Lackberg.

Lackberg is part of the wave of "Scandicrime" novelists that have taken the mystery/thriller world by storm. Jean Edith Camilla Läckberg Eriksson was born August 30, 1974 in Fjällbacka, Bohuslän. Bohuslan is in the Gotaland region of Sweeden. Fjallbacka is in the extreme western part of Sweeden (almost on the Norwegian border). Prior to Lackberg becoming famous this town was home to Ingrid Bergman.

Lackberg has always been fascinated by the crime novel and says that this started when she was a child looking for books to read in her parents library.

She graduated from Gothenburg University with a degree in economics. She moved to Stockholm and soon began to take her writing seriously with her first novel Isprinsessan published in 2003. The novel was translated into several languages including English in 2008 with the translation by Stephen T. Murray. This novel met with modest success and her readership has steadily grown with each installment of the series.

Jan 3, 4:59pm Top

I am about halfway through The Ice Princess. I like it so far, although some of the character development seems to drag a bit.

Edited: Jan 4, 12:39pm Top

I have a copy of Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction: Works and Authors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Since 1967 by Mitzi M. Brunsdale published in 2016 and Camilla Lackberg has an entry in that volume. A two page entry. For encyclopedia entries that is a sizeable amount of space to devote to one author. That book calls her the Sweden's Queen of Crime because she is now Sweden's blockbuster author. The book also give her official web site, so here is the link to that page. I will, from time-to-time, put some of that information on this thread.


It is very interesting. It is almost as interesting in its' way as the Haruki Murakami page. I encourage everybody to take a look both pages. They are lots of fun and clearly, lots of money has been spent on them.

The more research I have been doing on Lackberg the more interesting it has become.

The entry on Lackberg also said that "Besides being in the hands of her growing readership, Lackberg's crime novels have been adapted as a popular Swedish television series," titled Fjallbackamorden (Fjallbacka Murders in English). The series is based on characters from the novels but has all new stories. It began airing in August 2011.

Edited: Jan 4, 12:20pm Top

Lackberg's web site has this to say about Ice Princess.

The Ice Princess (2003): Almost 2.6 million copies of Camilla’s debut novel have been sold on the international market. The story begins with the discovery of the dead body of a woman in a bath. But who murdered her, and why? The Tanumshede police begin their investigation, and Erica Falck is drawn into the case, which touches her personally.

I hope to get started on the book this weekend, but right now I am piled up with reading. Since I have a month to read this one and will have a long plane trip towards the end of the month I am going to put off starting this one for a short time. However, don't let that stop you from discussing. I am not one of those people who don't like spoilers. They don't bother me. But that brings up the feelings of others in this group, so I would say, don't be to up front early in the month with spoilers. As we get to the later days in the month, it shouldn't be so much of a problem for everyone.

Jan 4, 12:26pm Top

There are now ten books in the series, so maybe some of the questions about the characters come later in the series? However, the Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime says that "In contrast to recent Nordic male detective portagonists who are flawed, middle aged, cynical, and nearly or completely alcoholic, Lackberg's Patrick Hedstrom is a young husband and father; Lackberg calls him 'the guy next door as a hero.' She develops her other main character, Erica Falck, a writer and his girlfriend, later wife, through the series. Sometimes Lackberg allows Patrik to take the lead, adn sometimes she places ERika at the forefront of the investigation. Lackberg thus creates 'an intriguing interaction' between them, 'both loving and fractious,'..." It will be interesting to see what does develop in the two characters as the series progresses.

Jan 4, 2:07pm Top

I read The Ice Princess last year and have also recently read the first couple of Leon books. I'll probably read a Brunetti Cookbook in place of one of the Brunettis. I'll join with the reading for the second Lackberg and for the Leon's when we get to an unread one.

Jan 4, 8:06pm Top

I will join in where I can, Benita

Jan 4, 9:01pm Top

I think most of these are in my library system, and plan to join in. The Lackberg series sounds more interesting to me than some Scandicrime.

Jan 4, 10:49pm Top

I'm finally back online, having caved in and bought a new laptop. It hasn't been that long since I read The Ice Princess and I didn't like it that much, so I won't do a reread of that one. I'll try to join in on the rest of the year's reading for the thread, though time constraints may limit how much I post comments.

Jan 5, 12:11am Top

I am #2 on library holds for the Ice Princess! Soon, I hope.

Jan 5, 10:18am Top

I went AWOL on LT for a lot of last year, but kept reading the Donna Leon books along with the schedule. I see that I somehow missed reading A Noble Radiance in 2019, so I will pick it up in January. I don't know if I will read the Lackberg books, as I have a lot of other planned reading this year, but if I can fit them in, I will. Definitely on with the Leon books, though, and looking forward to it. Let's hope this year I can keep up with the threads and not just the reading!

Jan 5, 6:27pm Top

I got the Ice Princess from the library today.

Jan 5, 6:34pm Top

I finished The Ice Princess last night. I thought the writing was awkward at points. I'm hesitant to blame this on the translator since he translated Steig Larsson's trilogy and won an award for his translation of one of Henning Mankell's books. I liked it better than the first Guido Guerrieri and the writing (or the translation) improved quite a bit after the first book in that series.

I was frustrated by the information that is withheld from the reader for pages and pages. Erica or Patrik will make a surprising discovery that sheds a different light on the mystery, but the reader isn't told what the discovery is until many pages later.

Jan 5, 7:20pm Top

>14 cbl_tn: I'm glad I'm not the only person who noticed the writing awkwardness. I didn't check to see what else the translator had translated and left it as I wasn't sure whose fault it was--author or translator. However, if it's the same translator for the Larsson books, I think it must be the author.

Jan 5, 7:46pm Top

>15 thornton37814: Larsson and Mankell are both men, and Lackberg is a woman. I don't know if that makes a difference in translation work?

Jan 6, 8:27am Top

I just found The Ice Princess at the e-library, so I am reading along :-)
I vaguely remember seeing a TV-adaption of this one.

Jan 13, 8:42pm Top

I finished The Ice Princess and thought it started a bit slow, but improved in the later half.

Jan 13, 11:39pm Top

I was wrong! I didn't read The Ice Princess. It was a later one in the series -- one of those rare times I didn't start at the beginning of a series. I got the ebook for free, or a really cheap sale. Now I remember thinking at the time that I might have liked it better if I'd read the earlier ones.

I managed to check out an ebook of Ice Princess, but it's in a queue with one I just got that I've been waiting on the hold list for three months, as well as a book for this month's RL book discussion and 2 ER books. (And class starts tomorrow . . .) I'll get to it eventually.

Jan 14, 3:47pm Top

I haven't started Ice Princess either. My life got really hectic with the beginning of the semester. I plan on starting it this week. And if I don't get to it now, it will go with me on the journey to ALA in Seattle on January 24. I think it will make great plane reading.

Edited: Jan 22, 2:17pm Top

I am hijacking this thread for a minute. January 26 - 28, 2019 is the ALA winter conference in Seattle, WA. If you like books I would encourage you to attend. There will be plenty of free ARC's for readers in the exhibit hall and LT is offering free passes. Tim Spaulding, LT founder, and Loreanne, loyal assistant, will be in Seattle as well. If there is interest I will plan a meetup for Saturday night, January 26. Just let me know on this thread or on my PM me on my LT page and I will put something together.

Here is the URL, and the instructions for the free passes to the exhibit hall.

Hi Benita,

Thanks for reaching out and offering to set up a meetup! I'm happy to report that we do, indeed, have free, exhibit hall-only badges for ALA Midwinter.

Please direct anyone who'd like a badge here: https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=313&oi=MuXZMs%2BGlqrHoIiGjo9....

That should automatically fill in the exhibitor invitation code. I just tested it out myself and was able to register successfully without any trouble.

If there's anything else I can do to help, please let me know. Definitely keep me posted as details get hammered out, so I can publicize the meetup in the State of the Thing this month!

Thanks again,

Loranne Nasir
Member Support & Social Media Librarian, LibraryThing

Jan 22, 2:22pm Top

I got a good start on the Ice Princess over the weekend. So far it seems like a very conventional mystery, but one that has captured my interest. Partly because of the setting. I was amused that the complaints of the characters about the high price of the houses in Fjallbacka and the general cost of living in a "tourist" town. It seems that Guido and Erica have something in common.

Of course, for us, the readers, the exotic setting is part of the attraction, or at least the initial attraction to picking up the book in the first place. It is fun to read about how lives are similar or different in different settings.

I will be leaving for the ALA Midwinter conference tomorrow, and hope to finish this book while flying cross country to Seattle. I also hope to post off and on, while I am in airports, and hotels in the next couple of days.

Edited: Feb 9, 3:11pm Top

Hi, Leon readers! I've decided to deaccession my paperback Donna Leon volumes, of which I have 13. They are all available in ebook format from my library, and I need the shelf space! If you would like one or more of these, and can pay the postage, PM me with your shipping address and I will wrap them up and send them out.

They are, in no particular order:

Dressed for Death
Acqua Alta (no front cover)
About Face
Drawing Conclusions
Death and Judgement
Friends in High Places
A Noble Radiance
Death in a Strange Country
Quietly in Their Sleep
Through a Glass Darkly
Blood From a Stone
Doctored Evidence
Uniform Justice

Jan 24, 4:25pm Top

And I must get hold of Ice Princess. I usually like ScandiCrime but I haven't heard of Lackberg.

Jan 28, 9:14pm Top

I never got to the ebook of Ice Princess before the loan ran out. I managed to snag the audio of it. That will better fit into my current reading commitments.

Jan 31, 2:15pm Top

I finished Ice Princess yesterday while flying back from the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference in Seattle, Washington. I enjoyed this novel. It was perfect plane reading.

I do have to say, that it was not what I expected. Scandicrime novels are usually dark, bloody, and very descriptively violent. Or at least the authors that I had previously read - Jo Nesbo and Steig Larsson. This novel was not that way. It was a good solid mystery in the same way that the Maisie Dobbs series is. Just good reading.

The plot was not that inventive and like some of the previous commentators up-thread have observed - there were a couple of plot points that I did see coming, and so were not surprises. However, I found the overall novel to be well constructed. The descriptions of life in a smaller town in Sweden were enlightening. There were several times in the reading when something was brought up - then dropped, that I figure will show up later as we read through the series. For instance, why was Eilert's little bit at the end, even in the book? My suspicion is that he will show up later - in another book.

All-in-all, even though I did not know what to expect from this series, I think this is a good beginning and I will look forward to reading the next in the series.

Feb 1, 11:42am Top

Today is February 1st and time to move on to another novel. Our February read is Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon. This is book number 8 in the Guido Brunetti series. The Amazon blurb reads like this:

It all begins with an early morning phone call. In the chill of the Venetian dawn, a sudden act of vandalism shatters the quiet of the city, and Brunetti is shocked to find that the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene is his own wife, Paola. She has taken a stand against a travel agency known for a certain kind of shady tourism. Meanwhile, at work, Brunetti is under pressure from his superiors to solve a daring robbery with a link to a suspicious accidental death. Does it all lead back to the Mafia? And how are his family’s actions connected to these crimes?

I do not have a copy of the book, and so will be doing an ILL request for it. That means that my start time will be a little delayed, but that should not discourage the rest of you from reading and discussing the book. I read even if there are spoilers.

Feb 1, 11:53am Top

What did all of you think of Ice Princess. This was Camilla Lackberg's first novel and I thought that showed. It was a good novel, but not the heart stopping ScandiThriller that I expected. I found it very conventional in its construction and plot lines. It will be interesting to see how she develops the characters in the future. I also wonder if she is going to make the culture, climate, or setting more and more of a part of the plot in the future. Kinda like Henning Mankell did with the Walendar series. In that series it seemed to me that climate became a character in the story.

I think it is also going to be interesting to read Donna Leon right on the heels of Lackberg. The Leon book we are reading is the 8th book in the series and by this time Leon has found her style and figured out how she is going to develop her character in conjunction with other reappearing characters and family members. Lackberg hasn't done that yet.

I have found myself thinking alot about the style of mystery written by Gianrico Carofiglio as compared to Leon and Lackberg. It is quite clear that Carogiflio is much more introspective than either of the other two authors. That does not mean that the main characters in either Leon or Lackberg are not thinking and feeling, but the way the authors presents them is very different from how introspective Carofiglio was with his Guido. I now think of Guido Guerreri as soulfull. I think that Guido Brunetti as thoughtful. I have not figured out what Erica and Patrik are - as of yet. That will make this year's reading very interesting.

Feb 1, 1:41pm Top

>27 benitastrnad: I read that one about a year ago so I won't be re-reading it. I will substitute Brunetti's Cookbook either this month or in April (since I've also read that one recently). I really love the jacket illustration.

Feb 1, 6:01pm Top

I have already started Fatal Remedies. I was able to check out the ebook from the library.

I think I mentioned earlier that I found some of the writing awkward in The Ice Princess. Lackberg is apparently a big enough name that she was able to get an award-winning translator. That doesn't mean that he's the best translator for her writing style, though. It may be a combination of Lackberg's first novel and the translator's first attempt at finding her voice in translation. Does anyone else have any thoughts about that?

Edited: Feb 3, 3:29pm Top

Translation is always a problem. I remember reading an article by Jose Saramago that was written when his English translator died. He said that he would probably not have been able to be an international literary figure without his translator. In that article he said that it was very hard for a translator to find the correct “voice” for an authors works. It was that voice that made books come alive. Most translations make the story more wooden than it is. I noticed this quality when reading some of the early work of Haruki Murakami. Those books also aren’t nearly the quality of the later works and I think it is clear that part of the problem is the translation. It makes reading translated books and adventure in reading.

Feb 6, 6:36pm Top

I finished The Ice Princess. Despite the fact that I only liked the two main characters and I guessed most of the mysteries, I liked this book enough to see where it goes in the second book. Many of the secondary characters were unredeemable, at least on first read. I wonder if any/many of them will show up again later? And I am interested to see how these dual main characters solve crime in the next installment.

>27 benitastrnad: I was all set to bail on Guido, until you mentioned that it is Paola who is in the limelight this time. Now I have to go request it from the library! : )

Feb 11, 1:00pm Top

I haven't forgotten about Guido, but I am having trouble getting a copy of this title through ILL. Apparently it is hard to find in libraries. It won't bother me if you guys talk spoilers, as I will read it anyway. So go ahead and talk amongst yourselves!

Feb 11, 1:27pm Top

I finished it over the weekend. I guess I'm lucky that both public libraries I use have ebook and e-audio copies in their Overdrive collections.

I liked this one better than the last. It does have an odd twist, though. It switches gears halfway through from sex tourism to pharmaceutical fraud.

Feb 11, 4:56pm Top

I wasn't able to find February's Guido on the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Overdrive collection, which is odd. They have the first several and they have the most recent, but there are about 5 in the middle that they don't own as an ebook. I recommended them last year when I discovered this, but so far they have not been purchased. Fortunately, I also belong to the Ohio State Library and they have the missing books in the Ohio Digital Library's Overdrive collection. I'm currently waiting for our February read and I'm going to make sure that I have the others on hold now in case there is a waiting list for them too!

Feb 12, 12:53pm Top

It is interesting that we are all having the same problem getting this book. I suspect that what has happened is that this book was originally published in 1999. This is just about the time that Leon's series about Guido Brunetti was taking off and becoming popular. I first became aware of Leon in 2007 when she attended the American Library Association Annual Conference as the guest of a publisher. She was sitting in a booth and signing books. At that time she was considered a mid-list author as her books hadn't become the blockbusters that they are now. It was a couple of years and by then her books were making the best seller lists.

What most public libraries do is about 5 years after a work of fiction as come out they cull, or weed, the collection of excess books. So, if they had two copies of this title on the shelves, they remove one copy. At the ten year mark, the title is evaluated again, and if it has not been checked out a designated number of times in the last five years, the book is removed from the shelves. Therefore, it is a rare work of fiction that gets left on the shelves for 10 years or more. My guess is that since the books we are reading now, are considered "old" for works of fiction that many of the hard copies have simply been removed from library collections.

Recorded copies are a bit different. The penchant for recorded copies of books is rather new, so many earlier books were simply not recorded at all. That is the case with the Tony Hillerman books. Now, publishers are returning to old, but popular series and are retrospectively recording them, but they simply weren't recorded to start with. Also, there is the Rule of 25 with which libraries have to contend. Most recorded, or digitized, books are subject to what libraries call the Rule of 25. These copies of titles are sold to libraries with a cap of 25 circulations. When somebody tries to check the book out for the 26th time, the library has to purchase a new copy. For that reason, many libraries, don't automatically re-purchase titles. Instead, they look at the age of the book, and how long it took to reach 25 circulations, and if there is a waiting list. They then decide if there is going to be enough circulations to warrant the purchase of another copy. Usually, librarians figure that if there is one request for a title that there are others out there who would like to read the book, but just aren't asking. However, budgets being what they are, libraries can't purchase every title. That is why they created Inter-Library Loan. Many public libraries offer this service for free, but many charge for it. If this service is free I advise people to use it. You can request recorded copies through ILL. However, they won't be digital. They will be in the form of CD's. I get lots of recorded books that way, and listen to them in my car on the way to and from work, and when I am about town.

Academic libraries have different collecting rules. Most academic libraries don't collect "Trade Fiction" at all, unless the works are considered to be classics. Trade fiction is what the Donna Leon books are. Once-in-awhile, academic libraries will collect trade fiction, but it is rare. Our library, here at The University of Alabama, has 1 Donna Leon book. It is Uniform Justice and it is an uncorrected proof (An ARC) that I suspect one of my compatriots got at the ALA conference in Washington, D. C. and donated to the library. Even though for me, ILL is free, it sometimes is hard for our ILL department to get their hands on a copy of the book. Most of the requests I make come from public libraries, but our policy is to go to Academic Libraries first. That slows things down.

All of this means that it may be hard to get our hands on these books when we want them, so the smart thing to do, is what some of you are already doing and putting in your requests as early as possible. And then be patient. We aren't on a time-line here, and so if it takes longer than a month to read a title, that is not a problem. None of us are the 75'ers Challenge Police, so just read the book when you can, and post when you can. The idea is to have somebody with whom we can discuss the books and compare them if we want to do so.

By-the-way, my ILL request still has not arrived. It does say that it is now "In Transit" so that means that somebody has the book and is in the process of sending it to Tuscaloosa.

Feb 13, 9:51pm Top

My copy of Fatal Remedies has arrived! I start reading tonight.

Edited: Feb 14, 7:14pm Top

>36 benitastrnad: Very interesting, Benita. I didn't know about the Rule of 25 - I suspected that there might be something like that, as I have noticed that a ton of books each month are removed from my library's Overdrive collection. I didn't know if it was based on a time limit or a circulation limit. The unfortunate thing I've noticed about my library is that there are books being removed that still have waiting lists, which doesn't seem right to me. Fortunately, that has not affected me yet. Also, fortunately, my library system doesn't charge for ILL, and I do take advantage when I'm looking for an old, out of print book, but I prefer ebooks when I can get them.

Glad your copy arrived. I'm still waiting for my ebook, but I'm number 1 on the list out of 5 total holds on 1 copy.

Feb 14, 7:33pm Top

It may be that titles are removed for several reasons. Number of Circulations. If a book hasn't circulated they aren't going to renew the purchase of it when it does hit 25. Digital copies also work on the same time frame as hard copies. If it hasn't circulated within a certain time period it is weeded just as a hard copy would be.

It is unusual to remove digital copies of titles that have waiting lists. However, like hard copies, libraries usually purchase multiple copies of titles. Especially those that are best sellers. After 3 years they usually consolidate titles. That makes for longer wait lists, but it helps libraries spend less money.

Edited: Feb 15, 11:11pm Top

I'm lucky to actually own a paperback copy of Fatal Remedies, purchased several years ago at a library book sale I attended when visiting my in-laws. But I haven't had time to get to it, as I've been reading an ER book I need to review.

I recently finished listening to The Ice Princess, which was OK but not terribly memorable. I'm having trouble remembering it already.

Feb 19, 3:18pm Top

I finished reading Fatal Remedies this morning. It was good. I like the mixing of the police procedural murder mystery with that of domestic home life. In this case the juxtaposition of the two marriages in the book - Guido and Paolo's and the Mitri's. It did not take me long to read this book, and I wonder what the reading level is for this book? If I get time I will try to do a Klose test on it and see. Plot wise, it was predictable. For me the most interesting part was the marriage of Guido and Paola. The philosophical difference between the two if them is very interesting.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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