A taste for Nordic Noir in Stockholm
January 17, 2019
I’ve read the novels of Henning Mankell; on TV I’ve seen both the Swedish version, and Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the world-weary detective Kurt Wallander. (Perhaps he was just weary of the insistent ringtone on his mobile that goes off at the most inopportune moments).
I was an avid follower of ‘Arne Dahl’ on BBC 4, with its mature female chief leading an elite squad of detectives, facing the problems of investigating crime in contemporary Stockholm.
I came late to ‘The Bridge’, I missed ‘The Killing’, and Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series was a step too far into the dark for me, but they all reinforced my prejudice that Stockholm might not be a safe place to wander in at night.
I arrived in the city for the first time with a guilty thrill of anticipation that at some point over the coming weekend I might hear of the discovery of a corpse, brutally murdered and horribly mutilated, in a dark corner somewhere near the hotel.
“The woman was walking her terrier, Garbo, in the park behind the National Library of Sweden. So as not to lose her dog in the dark, she had attached a flashing blue light to its collar. As she let the dog run free, the woman wondered why it was scrabbling in the undergrowth, under the light dusting of snow…..”
No. I couldn’t unleash my inner Wallander.
All I can report is that the Swedes wear a lot of black.
Quilted coats, black suits, leggings, stout boots, that sort of thing.
There’s a custom called Fika, which roughly translates as sharing time with a friend over a sweet pastry and a coffee, which is usually strong and…. black.
But then, on day two, I saw this:
A man in a red plaid coat, carefully coordinated with yellow trousers and gloves; clearly a foreigner. Picked up on CCTV, the Swedish police might surmise he was being lured to his death by a Swedish woman in a black coat and boots. How could they possibly find her?
It was a race against time. Eager to help, and with a cover story of exploring Nordic food, for the rest of the weekend I was surreptitiously on the lookout for suspects.
Swedish food is more colourful than the dress code – more in my next post – but I hadn’t thought of it as existentialist, until I saw this place:
“Please wait to be seated”