Text by Omer Ali
Amid the current glut of Scandinavian crime dramas it can be hard to know where to turn for the next Mammon, The Killing or The Bridge. May we suggest Spring Tide, the first novel by husband-and-wife writers Cilla and Rolf Börjlind, which is set to become a 10-part TV series next year.
It’s fair to say the Börjlinds have pedigree. Scandinavia’s most highly rated crime-drama writers have written 26 films around the fictional Swedish detective Martin Beck, wrote scripts for Wallander and were the writers behind Arne Dahl, the most recently exported Scandi crime smash. But they wanted a change. “We wanted to do something completely our own,” says Rolf of Spring Tide, which came out in Swedish two years ago (as Springfloden) but was released in English this spring. “We wanted to play god and create our own universe.”
That universe does have many of the elements familiar to anyone who knows their Scandi crime. It opens with a sadistic murder on a beach in the Koster Islands, Sweden, before we’re introduced to central characters Tom Stilton, a former cop, and Olivia Rönning, who fulfils the strong, quirky woman quota – the trainee policewoman has a squint, a pet cat called Elvis and a white Mustang inherited from her dead policeman father.
The Börjlinds have worked together for 20 years since they met at Sweden’s STV broadcaster in 1989 – Rolf was already established as a screenwriter while Cilla started out as a script girl. They quit together and began writing scripts for the Beck dramas based on the novels of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, another husband-and-wife writing team. “It’s not that unusual in Sweden for couples to write together, especially crime novels,” says Rolf, now a very youthful-looking 70. “It’s easier for two people to deal with all the logistics involved, and you can test your ideas and the structure. We complete each other.”
They took a break from Arne Dahl to write Spring Tide, holing up in their 105-year-old house just outside Stockholm. “We knew we wanted the main characters to have very different ages and sexes,” says Cilla, “and we were tired of police stations, so we wanted to create something outside that.”
A second book featuring Rönning and Stilton, Den tredje rösten (The Third Voice), has already been published in Sweden, and the Börjlinds are working on a third. “We’re in the crime business,” says Cilla, before Rolf adds, jokingly, “We have an affection for murder.”
Spring Tide is published by Hesperus. hesperuspress.com