One of the biggest mysteries for me at Easter is Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime). From Holy Thursday through Easter Monday is a public holiday in Norway, and it's also a time when just about everyone in Norway reads crime novels. Bookstore displays are full of detective novels, television and radio stations run crime serials and newspapers publish special literary supplements, all catering to Norwegians’ thirst for thrills.
This is a very peculiar national activity. Publishers actually churn out series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers" or Påskekrimmen, and dates of publication are moved to Spring and released at this time when the sale of mysteries goes up 50%. TV stations, radio and newspapers follow suit by running detective series based on the works of famous crime novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Simenon and Ruth Rendell.
But why does Norway, where bloodbaths are rare, choose Easter to delve into crime solving? According to one widely accepted theory, the tradition began in 1923 as the result of a marketing coup. Advertisements that resembled news items were published on the front pages of several newspapers, shocking readers who failed to grasp that it was a publicity stunt.
The initiative spread like wildfire among other publishing houses, and the crime novel became one of the few forms of entertainment available during the Easter break. Cafes, restaurants and movie theatres were closed during Easter, which was supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. There was no radio, and of course no television either. But everyone could read, and so the Easter crime novel was born, and with it came a bevy of renowned crime authors, including Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, Anne Holt and Jon Michelet.
The tradition lives on. The crime novel is just part of the holidays.A few Norwegian crime writers:
Kjell Ola Dahl
The Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal is still available and has over 92 pages of reviews, articles and author! author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.
Two great websites to bookmark with occasional blogs on Norwegian crime writers:
Detectives without Borders