Author: Dagmar Lange – Where it all began

Dagmar Lange

Dagmar Lange is undoubtedly one of the original Nordic Noir writers, and this is a fact accepted by her membership as one of the original 13 members of the Swedish Crime writers Academy.

Dagmar Lange

Dagmar Lange was a Swedish author who wrote under the pen name of Maria Lang.

Dagmar was born on the 31st of March 1914 but could of quite easily been born in today’s exciting crime writing era as she was ahead of her times with her forward thinking and sometimes then controversial story lines.

She divided a nation on thought and really got the subject of Nordic Noir to the forefront of discussions and debate.

In 1949 after the unsettled period of the war Dagmar brought a new dimension to the arts and paved way for hope of an exciting and new era within this genre when she published her first novel ‘The Murderer is Not the Only Liar’. This novel catapulted Dagmar into the limelight not just for her talent but because of the content of this book was based around a homosexual relationship, which was entwined around a story of crime, passion and intrigue.

The novel itself was positively received by some critics such as Barbro Alving from the Dagen’s Nyheter as a breakthrough in a taboo so far which other writers had not wanted to travel down and explore.

40 novels were penned by Dagmar over the following years and her success grew with each one up until her death on the 9th of October 1991.

But a new lease of life has been injected into this Nordic Noir legend who has paved the way for many other Nordic crime writers with the series ‘Crimes of Passion’ which has been screened on the TV and stars names such as Ola Rapace, Tuva Novotny and Linus Wahlgren.

Dagmar Lange’s genius works have been brought into a new era of where taboos have changed and controversy is no longer what people are talking about when they speak of ‘Crimes of Passion’, instead the brilliant writing and scripted tales are whats on everyone’s lips right now and this series is right on trend with our passion of Crimes.

The Series

Crimes of Passion is 6 feature length episodes which are based on the novels of Dagmar Lange.

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The stories are set in Sweden in Berslagen in the 1950’s and focus on a trio of friends who were originally brought together and reunited when invited to a party on an island. This trio happen upon a crime each episode near and around where they are going about their daily lives.

These crime interventions and discoveries are made believable by the knowledge that one of the trio Christer Wijk is a detective, this makes the fact that these cases are brought to their attentions on a constant basis not so discredited. As they naturally discuss theories surrounding the cases we see the trio interact and become involved with other characters within the crime settings.

The series was not so positively received in Sweden, but with the joy of English subtitles now injecting life into Scandinavian dramas and enabling them to be broadcast to wider audiences this seems to of enhanced Crimes of Passion’s image as it has joined the enviable line up with well received Nordic Noir crime series’s further afield.

I have often wondered since first studying this unique genre if the backdrop of a dark Scandinavian landscape helped with the story lines and gave the author the encouragement they needed to go down a route of desolation and darkness.

This is a question that I have put to some authors and they have never admitted to that fact, but whilst watching ‘Crimes of Passion’ it has become clear that indeed Nordic Noir as a genre actually has become what it is today not just because of the dramatic backdrop but because of the talented writers who could turn the sunniest of climes into a haven for murderers hiding in the shadows of the darkest intrigue and mystery, as ‘Crimes of Passion’ proves.

The story lines are most often set on a summers day where a wander along the beach highlights the calm waters, high sunshine and nestled cottages lining these 1950’s idyllic villages which we are brought into. But the under current that swims below begins to bring up to the surface small lies which ripple through from peoples pasts, it shows smiles which have the smallest smirk in the corners which elude to a different story being told by them and we realise that the 1950’s weren’t so innocent, they just seemed that way, but if we dig deeper we are exposed to a time when Nordic Noir can be blended into this agreeable way of life.

Nordic Noir goes deeper than just the dark skies, cold winter streets which the detectives tread and the sparse landscape in which our crime heroes chase down the enemy.
Nordic Noir is about style, solid story lines with genuine twists cleverly put in between the lines for us to surmise.

Now with the genre moving more into TV and film, we have high class actors and actresses so believably bringing to life characters whom we have grown fond of through books and giving them their third dimension.

The Cast

Crimes of Passion could only warrant some spectacular actors to do justice to the characters created by one of the masters of crime writing.

As the series is predominately based around a trio of friends who every episode deal with deep story lines the actors would need to bring an aura of excellence to this series which they do. We are treated from performances by Ola Rapace as the lead detective Christer Wijk week in week out.

Ola Rapace - Morgan Norman

Photo: Morgan Norman, www.morgannorman.com

Ola Rapace is not shy of Nordic Noir acting having spent his early years performing in Henning Mankell’s Wallander as detective Stefan Lindman, so this seemed like a good match to the untrained but enthusiastic Scandi crime critic. He has a suave manner about him which fits brilliantly with the era around him, and the harmless interest he has for every women he meets has endeared him to us. A quiet confidence which is apparent as he goes about his daily detective work seems to mask a slightly enviable demeanor as we catch some deep signals of discontentment, as he watches from the sideline the romantic relationship between his his best friend Einar Bure and his new wife Puck Ekstedt grow with a mutual respect between them. The viewer can only conclude that there is something under the surface which Christer Wijk truly longs for.

Einar Bure the best friend of Christer seems to be the voice of reason, his love for Puck is evident and uncompromising with each week that we are given a glimpse into their newly formed partnership. Einar is a solid character with a good foundation of wrong and right and sometimes is the guidance which Christer needs and looks towards. Einar Bure is played by Linus Wahlgren, Linus comes from the successful Wahlgren family where his parents are famous actors and his brother and sister Nichlas and Penilla have also succumbed to the arts through acting and music. Einar is indeed a loveable character who we are drawn to for clarity and the truth.

The trio is completed by Puck Ekstedt. Puck is a strong female character for the era and this gives way to us being reminded of Dagmar Lange’s forward thinking notions.

Puck is a university literature student who we are first introduced to as she without intimidation gives a lecture to a packed room full of male counterparts and professors.
Her natural curiosity sometimes gets her into danger but she is normally on the right track whilst following her gut instincts, this sees her nurturing her interest and passion for crime.

Puck is played by Tuva Novotny who is a Swedish actress and singer born in Stockholm but grew up in Amotsfors. Tuva is the daughter of Barbro Hedstrom and Czech film director David Novotny. Tuva has a long and established career and rounds off the main characters ensemble with style.

Tuva Novotny - Morten Germund b.dk

Photo: Morten Germund – b.dk

Crimes of Passion is bringing us a different perspective to how Nordic Noir novels can be played out on the screen and elaborated from books.

The integrity of the characters and story lines have given us a welcomed insight into a time when things which were unspoken still happened and a we have been indulged with the works of Dagmar Lange who had a foresight which she saw in a genre which we now celebrate as Nordic Noir.