Even though Agatha Christie is the most popular murder-mystery author to have ever lived in Mallorca, the island still attracts writers searching our landscapes for a peaceful place to inspire their work. One of them is Mons Kallentoft, who was born in Stockholm in 1968 and has lived in Palma for four years.
This Swedish author and journalist is well-known for his dark thrillers, including the series about superintendent Malin Fors, which has been translated into 28 languages and can be found in bookshops all over the world. In Sweden alone he has sold over one million copies of his 20 books. He has already had one of his novels translated in Spain (Midwinter Sacrifice), with five in Germany and the USA and eight in the United Kingdom. Mons K. places his protagonists in the darkest segments of society.
When PREMIUM met up with him he had just launched two more books; one in Sweden and another in Germany.
It is a beautiful Sunday in Palma and the streets where he lives in Santa Catalina are peaceful. I meet Mons Kallentoft and the agreed time and place. We laugh at how punctual we both are, like the good Swedes that we are. We take a few steps across the street and sit under one of the lush trees in a quiet square. He orders “un cortado” (a shot of espresso with a splash of milk) showing a very good command of Spanish.
He has a busy spring ahead of him. In May, In den Fängen des Löwen will be launched in Germany. It will be the second thriller in the Zack series published in the German language. Die Fährte des Wolfes became an instant bestseller when it came out last August. In June, Falco is being launched in Sweden, which will be his fifth police title to hit bookshops. And this summer sees the filming of a Swedish TV series based on his books about superintendent Malin Fors.
Linköping, where Mons grew up, is also home to Malin Fors, his fictional detective character. But as the author likes to spend time in the big cities, his characters travel with him to Bangkok, where his new book Devil Doftes is set. The city’s seediest neighbourhood becomes everyday life for inspector Malin Fors, surrounded by prostitution and corruption. The books are inspired by his own trips to Thailand. Mons shares Palma with the bustling Asian city where he likes to visit from time to time to relax and unwind. He explains that although he is not a fan of the beachfront clubs and massage parlours, he feels at home in a bar with a good Martini in front of him. There he can spend hours watching the world go by.
“I love working and it’s when I am at my best, but being in a bar relaxes me and I can concentrate on myself. The only problem is getting drunk,” he laughs.
Even though it’s a Sunday, Mons Kallentoft hasn’t lost his sense of style. He sports a handkerchief in the pocket of his double-breasted waistcoat and his well-worn shoes look nice and shiny under the table.
We walk into the city centre and end up in the classic Ca’n Joan de S’aigo. We order Cava, hazelnut ice-cream and almond cake. Food is one of his passions and he doesn’t mind spending a small fortune on a lunch that lasts for two hours. He is a bon vivant.
I asked him how he came to live in Mallorca. He was tired of the bad weather in Sweden and wanted to return to Spain where he had spent a lot of time in his youth. He visited Palma with his family – his wife Karolina and his two children – to look into the possibilities of settling on the island. “The choice of a place to live is very similar to writing a list of the things we wish we had. It was easy. Everything is easy here. It’s a beautiful island and Palma is a Spanish city with a very pleasing ambience,” he explains.
Although part of his heart belongs to Madrid, where he went to live he was 19 and is a place that he has wonderful memories of. He was young with dreams of being a writer. He spent two wild years in the city during the era of “La Movida Madrileña” (in English the Madrid Scene; a countercultural movement that took place mainly in Madrid during the Spanish transition after Francisco Franco’s death in 1975.) He lived in a student environment, very close to where Pedro Almodóvar created his first films.
“Life was one big party at the time, I did very little else. Luckily I found a wealthy Spanish girlfriend who kept me. They were fun, crazy years, but I don’t miss it now. Bad boys have to be young,” he says.
During his stay in the capital, he began to appreciate the Spanish culture and went to see a bullfight for the first time. “I fell in love with it and I went to the bullring as often as I could. It is the art form that best represents our brutality and fragility. It all happens in the ring and it can be a beautiful experience if we accept the violence,” he says.
His wild years in Madrid encouraged him to write is first novel, which came out several years after his return, (Peseta, set in Madrid).
After listening to his impressive story, I believe Mons when he says he loves to work. His driving force and his interests lie in his work.
“If you are an artist, you will never slow down, you will never find the answers you are looking for, and this is part of its beauty. That’s why I am sharpening my tools to draw closer to the sublime,” concludes Mons Kallentoft before we go our separate ways.