Thriller Month Special: Pop & Nasty and The Scandi Job

A few years back, we had a job up north, Nasty and I.

A guy with a slick velvet voice called us and gave us the details so we could meet. Fuckin’ Sweden. We packed us some power, got into a train and traveled up north.

What a friggin’ depressing journey that was. Nothing but snow. Nasty was complaining there was hardly enough daylight left for a guy to take care of his hemorrhoids with a handmirror. He seemed restless and agitated and couldn’t sit still for more than a minute. We finally arrived at our cabin where we were supposed to meet our man the next day. I went outside to take a leak, started writing my name in the snow but nearly froze off my crown jewels. Good thing too. Writing your name in the snow at the soon-to-be scene of a crime is not a clever thing to do.

The asshole we were supposed to meet was a couple of days late, so that left us in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do in this godforsaken place except listen to Nasty complain about his new bodypart. Luckily, I stumbled upon a bookcase filled with crime books. Scandi crime books to be precise. Taking a closer look, I saw that some of them were even by woman writers. I hate women writers (Clark is still on my to-do list but I haven’t gotten around to doing her yet), those stupid dames with their social issues, their motherly concerns, and their lack of violence bore the hell out of me, but I soon found out that these Scandi babes were a whole different bunch.

So there we were in front of an old stove, Nasty sitting on a cushion with a hole cut out of it, a whole heap of books around us. It was time to do some serious reading. Of course Nasty got nasty and we started fighting about who should read what book. We both had our eyes on a broad called Karen Fossum. Normally we don’t fight over broads, what with me having the better equipment and the best snarl in any place we stop, but I guess there is a first time for everything. In the end we both let her drop, but I tell you man, all that friggin’ snow can do weird things with your mind. We almost shot some airholes in each other until our eyes fell on some other books that looked as promising, if not more. We put our guns away, poured ourselves a coupl’a stiff bourbons, and settled in for a good read.

I hate the cops, hate them with a vengeance, but once in a blue moon you read a story about a copper that makes you think, Man, I should have joined the other side. Harry Hole is one of those cops in this Norwegian thriller The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo. With a serial killer at large during a heat wave in Oslo there is a whole lot of sweating going on. Good old Harry is in a deep hole, still grieving the loss of his old colleague and the breakup with his girlfriend. He can’t sleep, is drinking heavily, and messing up on the job. Catching a serial killer who murders with no mercy and leaves all kinds of nasty demonic clues is not an easy task. Hole, working under Tom Waaler, who he suspects of killing his former partner, gets in over his head and the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan. Get set for some fast reading ‘cause Harry Hole is gonna give you a ride you won’t easily forget.

If Asa Larsson were a man, I would make her my partner. Since she is a broad, all I can do after reading her work is compliment her on her balls. In The Savage Altar, tax lawyer Rebecka Martison goes back to the village where she was born to help her neurotic and troubled friend Sanna, who is charged with her brother Victor’s murder. Victor was the heart of some freaky religious community that seems to dominate life in this small desolated village. Rebecka soon finds out that everybody has secrets, just like herself, and confronting them is necessary to get to the bottom of what really happened and clear her friend of the murder charges that are hanging over her head. Think Minette Walters with lots of snow, a weird religious cult, and revelations that keep you turning the pages. This is a rip-roaring read which is a must for every crime buff. The book won Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel award. Her second book The Blood Spilt just came out. Guess what Santa is bringing me this year.

Back to the real men, Henning Mankell’s The Return of the Dancing Master rocks like hell. It starts when police officer Stefan Lindman is on sick leave because he has cancer in his tongue. No more lickin’ lollypops for him, or anything else for that matter. Awaiting his therapy and not wanting to contemplate death every sixty seconds, he travels up north when he finds out that his former partner, the retired Herbert Molin, has been brutally murdered. Lindman soon discovers he didn’t know his partner as well as he thought he did. Like I always say: ya can’t trust no one, not even your motha. Anyway, when a second murder is commited the first murderer comes back to see what the hell is happening. As Lindman’s investigation becomes increasingly complex it is with both horror and disbelief that he starts to uncover links to a global web of neo-Nazi activity. Mankell knows how to tell a great quiet story filled with twists and turns in a cold, white, and desolate Sweden, all the while not losing sight of the inner struggles of his hero. This is one of his best books.

Don’t go looking in the papers for that job of ours. The loser of a guy wasn’t important enough to get into the international rags. When we left Sweden we took everything in the cabin, including the books. Still on our reading lists are: Karin Alvtegen, Mari Jungstedt, Yisa Sigurdardottir, Ake Edwardson, Arnaldur Indridason, Liza Marklund, Hakan Nesser. Apparently this scandi stuff is big business these days. There’s some shit in Holland goin’ on about it, or whatever, like they’re the first ones to discover this shit. But you know better.

Until the next time! Stay safe and watch your back.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This recently rediscovered Pop & Nasty column was written before the duo went into hiding. Obviously the authors featured have written more books since Pop & Nasty’s disappearance, so to make things easier for you, clicking on the authors name will take you to the page for their latest book.  If you want more info on the best and latest scandi crime novels, see our latest newsletter, or send an e-mail to! — The Blogmistresses.