Monday, February 19, 2018

The Minnesota Trilogy

The Land of Dreams
Only the Dead
The Raven

by Vidar Sundstøl
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
University of Minnesota Press 2013, 2014, 2015

My winter of Scandinavian murder mysteries takes an inside-out turn with these books set along Highway 61 on Minnesota’s north shore. The author is a native Norwegian who lived in the Arrowhead district between Duluth and Canada for several years. He put his considerable powers of observation to work on the peoples, cultures and geography of this location, overlaying it with an appreciation of its history. The story centers on a “forest cop” Lance Hansen who becomes involved with the a brutal murder of a Norwegian tourist near the shore of Lake Superior. It is spread out over three books, with the bulk of the middle book consisting of flashbacks to an incident that occurred in the area over one hundred years ago. There is a great amount of detail in the trilogy: history of both immigrants and Native Americans, local businesses, family dynamics, and the personal struggles of the protagonist. I do think that the three books (700+ pages total) could have been made into one shorter book that would have had just as much impact. That said, you never want a well-written book to end, right?

The translator is the incomparable Tiina Nunnally, you won’t find a better one.

These books were a big hit in Norway. It was very interesting seeing what a gifted foreign writer can do with a novel set in my own home state. I wonder if Jono has read these?

Here is a great interview with the author as well as in-depth reviews of each volume of The Minnesota Trilogy.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

Oddly enough the Missus has, but I haven't gotten them into the schedule. She liked two of the three, but I can't remember which one didn't excite her. I missed meeting Mr. Sundstol when he was up here and do regret that.

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