Season 2 of Trapped (Iceland), Staalesen’s Big Sister (Norway) and Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (Nigeria)

Trapped! The first two episodes of this Icelandic crime drama’s highly anticipated second season aired last night on BBC 4. It’s now three years after the events of season 1, and police chief Andri Olafsson is living in Reykjavík. But when a politician is brutally attacked outside parliament by her own brother, Andri is forced to head back north to Seyðisfjörður to unravel a tangle of familial and social conflicts. Locals are up in arms about a new aluminium plant and its effect on the community, and on top of all that, Andri has to deal with his estranged teenage daughter. Brooding landscapes, Icelandic jumpers, and a hefty dollop of the ancient sagas create a compelling mix. And it’s great to see Andri, Hinrika and Ásgeir back together as a team. If you have access to BBC iPlayer, you can catch up there.

Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite:

Which leads me on to…

Gunnar Staalesen’s Big Sister, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Orenda Books, 2018)

First line: I have never believed in ghosts.

This is the fifth of Gunnar Staalesen’s ‘Varg Veum’ detective novels to be published in the UK by Orenda Books, but it’s actually a pretty good place to start if you’re new to the series, as we’re given some interesting background to Veum’s own family.

The novel opens with the private eye receiving a surprise visit from a woman. Norma Bakkevik comes to him about a missing person’s case – so far, so conventional – but then reveals that she is Veum’s older half-sister, the daughter of his mother. The novel skilfully interweaves these two narrative strands, following Veum’s investigations into Norma’s goddaughter’s disappearance and his mother’s secret past. As ever, Staalesen treats us to a top-notch read, mainly set in Bergen on Norway’s southwest coast.

Staalesen won the 2017 Petrona Award for Where Roses Never Die. He’s up for the award again this year with Big Sister – can he make it a double?

Incidentally, I’m willing to bet 10p that the novel’s title was inspired by Chandler’s 1949 The Little Sister.

Which leads me to another big and little sister…

Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister, the Serial Killer (Doubleday 2018)

First line: Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him.

I gobbled up this wholly original Nigerian crime novel in one sitting. Korede is a nurse: she is plain, respectable, and leads a neat and ordered life. Or rather, she would do if it weren’t for her volatile, beautiful younger sister, whose boyfriends seem to have a habit of winding up dead, and who then expects big sis to sort everything out. I won’t give too much more away, but suffice to say this is an arresting read, which fearlessly deploys the darkest of humour to tell its story. The question at the heart of the novel is: how far would you go to protect a family member whose actions you know are criminal? It’s all very nicely done, and manages to avoid an overly pat denouement.

Both the subject matter and tone of My Sister reminded me of Austrian author Bernhard Aichner’s Woman of the Dead, another wonderfully original novel featuring an unrepentant murderess…

You can read a very informative interview with Braithwaite here.

13 thoughts on “Season 2 of Trapped (Iceland), Staalesen’s Big Sister (Norway) and Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (Nigeria)

  1. The Braithwaite sounds terrific, Mrs. P. I’ve been hearing good things about it, but just haven’t gotten there yet *sigh.* It’s definitely on my ‘I will read this’ list, though. And I’d like to see Trapped when it comes this way…

    • I know that feeling all too well, Margot. The good thing about MY SISTER is that it’s a relatively quick read. It’s so fresh and original that I found myself zipping through it in no time.

      Did the first series of Trapped make it to the US? Via Netflix perhaps? If so, how did it go down, I wonder?

      • I don’t know how it went down. I tried to find it on Netflix and couldn’t. Hopefully we’ll get it at some point soon *tapping fingers…*

      • season one of Trapped is currently on Amazon Prime – just looked the other day. Hope we get Season two before too long.

    • How wonderful, Angela! I’d love to hear her talking about how she came up with the idea – the characterisation of both sisters is really wonderful, and the whole novel is very funny too (if you’re into a rather grim kind of humour). Hope you enjoy seeing her in action!

  2. Morning Mrs P. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since season one of Trapped. It’s been a brilliant start to the new series which I am recording as well as watching, just in case I miss something.
    I read We Shall Inherit the Wind thinking it was book one as Amazon listed it. But it isn’t. There are a lot that have gone before and a fair few after, and some that aren’t numbered at all. Whether they have been numbered in the order they were translated, or the order of publication or chronologically is anyone’s guess. It’s only the first Varg Veum story I’ve read, so whether each book can be read as a standalone or they need to be read in sequence to get VV’s back story is anyone’s guess 😕.

    • Hi Kathy P! Yes, it’s lovely to have Trapped back again. I really love all three police characters, but have a particularly soft spot for Hinrinka.

      On the ‘Varg Veum’ series: I know there are lots of novels in the series, and that not all have been translated into English. The ones that have may well be out of sequence, as publishers tend to go for the strongest one in the series first (on the grounds that you only get one real shot to hook readers in). I’ve probably read three or four now, and have sometimes been taken surprised by a personal development I didn’t know about (or perhaps I’ve forgotten…?). In any case, I reckon you can dive into BIG SISTER without that happening. What we find out has to do with Veum’s early life, rather than more recent events…

  3. Ah, I often wondered about the reason why translated books are released out of order, now I know. I will have to have a closer look at Big Sister.
    I like little Hinriker too, I bet she could pack a punch when needed 😏….

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