She’s known as Denmark’s “Queen of Crime,” but author Sara Blaedel is likely to expand her reign locally with the upcoming American release of her entire Inspector Louise Rick catalog along with a brand new trilogy set in the United States.
In fact, in “The Running Girl,” which will be published in January, Louise’s best friend, journalist Camilla Lind, drives down to San Diego in a scene inspired by Blaedel’s own experience.
“I did a three-month road trip in the U.S. with my son back in 2008,” she explained. “We ended the tour in San Diego on the night President Obama was elected. So many people included us in their happiness and celebration, and I totally fell in love with the city.”
Blaedel stayed downtown in the Gaslamp, where she spent a lot of time walking around, exploring and taking notes for possible future books.
“The feeling there reminded me of the old part of Copenhagen,” she remembered. “It was so cozy, and I have tons of great memories from our stay. When we left, I had a strong feeling that I wanted to come back.”
While she plans a book tour that she hopes will bring her back to San Diego and give her a chance to walk along the beach in Del Mar, many of her local readers are considering trips to Denmark to see why the Danish people are considered the happiest people in the world and to walk in the footsteps of Inspector Louise Rick.
“Louise lives in my old apartment on Frederiksberg in Copenhagen,” said Blaedel. “I moved out a couple of years before I started writing the first book, and I handed it over to her. She lives on the fifth floor, and I know exactly how it feels for her to carry up all her grocery bags, what the view from her window looks like, who her neighbors are. It really brings her to life for me because I am totally with her.”
Fans can see Louise’s apartment from the street while they tour her neighborhood, stopping at the small shops and cafes for a kringle, a delicious Danish pastry, or a signature open-faced sandwich called smorrebrod.
They can also easily check out the “dark side” of Copenhagen, which is featured in Blaedel’s book “The Night Woman.”
“It’s actually only a few streets in the part of town named Vesterbro and it’s not scary at all,” she said. “It used to be known for prostitution and drug dealers but it’s now one of the hippest areas. I find the mix of people fascinating.”
Blaedel also recommends a drive to Roskilde, a beautiful old town where many royals are buried and where “The Killing Forest” and “The Stolen Angel” are set.
But to really get a sense of “hygge,” the philosophy of coziness by which the Danish live their lives and which has recently become a trendy goal for Americans, you have to follow in the footsteps of the author herself.
According to Blaedel, that means heading to Hornbaek, the small fishing village where she has her summer house. That’s where she writes her books and gathers for intimate dinners with friends.
Although most visitors spend their vacation in Copenhagen, seeing traditional sights like Tivoli Gardens, the canal along Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid statue, Blaedel recommends also making time to get out of the city and explore other parts of Denmark.
One of her favorite places is Falsled Kro, a luxury country retreat on Fyn. She’s been going there since she was a little girl, and it’s the epitome of hygge. “When you drive on Fyn, it feels like you’ve turned back time,” she said. “It’s so beautiful and unspoiled, and I love the landscape and the views over the water.”
She also suggests a stay at Kurhotel Skodsborg, the leading Nordic hotel spa, where the focus is on wellness and pampering. This world class spa features more than a dozen different cooling and warming experiences, including the classic SaunaGus – aromatherapy in the sauna followed by a brisk dip in the ocean.
The SaunaGus is a staple for Blaedel, even in the winter. She then wraps herself in a blanket and makes herself at home by the fireplace in the living room-like library which bears her name.
“I was so honored when they named the room after me!” she said. “I always look forward to giving readings in that room. It’s very comforting to be surrounded by all that warmth when I’m telling dark stories.”
Blaedel also suggests driving all the way up north to Skagen, an artist’s paradise where the sun shines for more hours a day than anywhere in the country. “It’s a five-hour drive from Copenhagen, and that is almost what it takes to cross all of Denmark,” she said. “But it’s definitely worth it.
“And,” she adds, “if you have time, drive to Jylland. There are so many wonderful places to see like Aarhus and the west coast. Oh, and sail to Bornholm, a small island located between Denmark and Sweden. It’s totally different from the rest of the country, and it’s a must-see.”
Although Blaedel still returns to her summer house frequently, she now lives in New York City. Her first book set in the United States, “The Undertaker’s Daughter,” takes place in Racine, Wisconsin, which has a large population of Danish immigrants.
“I am always interested in seeing America through a Danish woman’s eyes,” said Blaedel, who won The Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary prize. “I’ve been on several book tours across the country and I like to imagine what it would feel like for me to settle in different cities.”
Maybe San Diego will be next.
For more information about Blaedel’s books and tour schedule, visit sarablaedel.com/.