First look: The Susan Effect by Peter Hoeg

Long-term fans of Scandinavian crime fiction will know the name Peter Hoeg. He’s not a prolific author, but he wrote one of the defining books in this sub-genre of crime fiction in the early 90s – Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, or Frk Smillas fornemmelse for sne in the Danish. He has only released four other novels since that seminal title, but this year Vintage is bringing us The Susan Effect. Here you can have a good gander at the early edition – the hardback goes on sale 3 August.

Originally published as Effekten af Susan in Denmark three years ago, the book revolves around Susan Svendsen, a woman with a particular talent. People feel at ease with her. They unburden themselves of their secrets when she’s around. But now Susan and her family are facing troubled times, and she might be going to prison.

She is thrown a lifeline when a former government official says that the charges will be dropped if she agrees to use her ability on people who worked for a secret government thinktank called The Future Committee. She needs to track them down, and find out what was in the final report they wrote – but there are forces out there who do not want those details revealed… Ever.

Enigmatic throwback
As with Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, the early signs are that The Susan Effect will offer an eclectic read featuring an unusual female lead character. Smilla Jespersen appeared before Stieg Larsson came up with Lisbeth Salander, and she too had a peculiar talent involving mathematical and scientific theorem. That, and she could distinguish between every different kind of snow. Smilla was a true enigma, half-Greenlandic, she viewed Danish society from the outside and would wistfully drift into recollections of her childhood on the icecap while at the same time investigating the death of another Greenlander – a tiny boy who apparently fell from the top of a block of flats. MJ McGrath’s half-Inuit investigator Edie Kiglatuk is another subsequent character who seems to follow on from Peter Hoeg’s Miss Smilla.

Translated by Martin Aitken, The Susan Effect looks like it’ll be the summer release to savour for anyone who loves Danish crime fiction. Watch for our review in due course. You can pre-order your copy using the button below.

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow was turned into a movie with Gabriel Byrne and Julia Ormond, and won the Glass Key Award in 1993.

Tagged under

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *