If you thought Scandinavian thrillers couldn’t get any better, think again. Swedish criminal defense lawyer Jens Lapidus makes his English-language debut with Easy Money, the first in the Stockholm Noir trilogy and our April 2012 Mystery of the Month. Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney calls it “hands-down the best gangster thriller in years.”
Lapidus talked to us about writing, great books and the criminal mind.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Three men pursue money, status and power in a dark and brutal account of the Stockholm underworld, with nary a comforting Swedish cop in sight.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Dennis Lehane told me once that you should write what you yourself would love to read. It is perhaps a cliche in the writers handbook, but the reason it’s a cliche is because it’s true, as Lloyd Cole puts it.
Name one book you think everyone should read.
I don’t think there are such books. However, I could mention Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. When the main character, Raskolnikov, puts his philosophical theory to the ultimate test of murder, one of the most tragic tales of suffering and redemption I ever read is unfolding.
What is the best part about being a writer?
I still work full time as a criminal defense lawyer, which is a pretty rigid job, full of laws and rules to follow. For me, writing is the opposite. I set the rules and can be my own judge. This is a good balance, a bit of Yin and Yang, so to speak.
If you were a character in a crime novel, would you rather play the role of criminal or detective?
You won’t find many detectives in my books, because I am much more fascinated with the criminal mind than the inside of a policeman’s head. Therefore, the answer would probably be that I play the role of the criminal, but a criminal with a heart.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
When Easy Money was first published it felt unreal and super cool. Then it was translated into English and James Ellroy, my big source of inspiration, could read it. He loved it, which really made me proud.
What are you working on next?
I usually don’t discuss work in progress. But I can say as much as this: It is a new breed of Scandinavian crime fiction.