Pan Macmillan snaps up the 'Finnish Miss Marple'

Novels follow two ladies living in a Helsinki retirement home and unravelling mysteries

Finland is bidding to become the epicentre of “Scandi noir” after the publisher Pan Macmillan snapped up the global English rights to a new literary detective series, described as a “Nordic take on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple”.

Written by Minna Lindgren, the books, to be called The Lavender Ladies Detective Agency in the UK, have been published in Finland as the Twilight Grove trilogy.

These “cosy” novels follow two spirited ladies who live in a Helsinki retirement home where they unravel a series of mysteries. The first book, The Lavender Ladies Detective Agency: Death in Sunset Grove, will be translated by Lola Rogers and published in English in June 2016.

Natasha Harding, a Pan Macmillan editor, said: “The central characters are both funny and endearing and they make for an interesting detective duo. I’m delighted to be publishing this trilogy.”

The deal was inked after the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, where Finland was given Guest of Honour status. Finland is promoting a stable of writers who hope to take up the baton for Scandinavian crime fiction launched by the success of Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels.

Elina Ahlback, Lindgren’s literary agent, said: “Minna Lindgren has an utterly inimitable, socially conscious, sensitive and hilarious voice that is firmly rooted in Helsinki. Her stories look at the modern world through a 90-year-old’s eyes.”

Ms Ahlback said the Twilight Grove Trilogy “fits into the wave of ‘golden oldie fiction’ started by The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (by Jonas Jonasson) and The Little Old Lady who Broke all the Rules (Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg).”

Other Finnish writers set to break through include Johanna Sinisalo, pioneer of a science-fiction/fantasy genre known as “Finnish weird” and Salla Simukka, author of the Snow White Trilogy, a crime series centred around a 17 year-old protagonist Lumikki (“Snow White” in Finnish), who has been compared to Lisbeth Salander, the central character in Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As Red As Blood, the first book in the Snow White trilogy, has been published in the UK by Hot Key Books.

Ms Ahlback said: “Finland has outstanding authors- fresh voices with world-class stories flavoured by witty humour.”

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