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France takes Sweden's crime fiction mantle

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Stieg Larsson's Millenium protagonist Lisbeth Salander.
14:37 CET+01:00
Move over Kalle Blomqvist and Kurt Wallander, it's time for Sweden to pass the crime fiction thriller torch to France, where the writers are exploding onto the English-language crime thriller scene.
 
After the international success of Scandinavian crime writing, France's own small army of fictional detectives and amateur sleuths is sparking unprecedented interest from English-language publishers on the lookout for the next big thing.
   
Christopher MacLehose, who discovered the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson for an international readership, says that after years on the sidelines, French crime writers are finally moving "centre stage".
   
"I think there is a wide feeling that Scandinavian crime which was a byword until very recently for potentially best selling crime fiction has tailed off," the founder of the London-based MacLehose Press told AFP.
 
 
Pilar Webb, editorial director of London-based Gallic Books, said the tapering off of Scandinavian crime fiction was to be expected given the large number of books published combined with the death of Stieg Larsson, and Henning Mankell's decision to bring to an end his Wallander series.
 
"So many people sprang into print writing crime stories from Scandinavia... and quite a lot of the books then written in Scandinavia were much less good than the wagons they climbed onto," he said.
   
Now, however, French writers were finally coming into their own, he added.

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"People ask if I have any Dutch crime writers and I say 'no, but I've been hunting and hunting for a good one'. Germany? Not yet, Spain? Not quite... there are one or two wonderful writers, but nothing to compare at present with France."
 

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