For me the key to the appeal of Scandinavian is manyfold:
1 - The unemotional nature of the detectives and their peculiar close relationship with death;
2 - The long dark winters (and the hot summers too) incoporated into the narrative;
3 - Bleak Scandinavian landscape which serves to mirror the thoughts of the characters;
4 - Incorporation of larger social issues into the narrative of police work.
Kenneth Branagh's playing Henning Mankell's detective Kurt Wallander in the BBC series is a good example of what I mean.
The Scandinavian Crime Fiction has consistently come up with great plotlines that are as cold and bleak as the locations in which they are set, but it's this sense of the other that sets them apart.
Crime writers can come up with any number of serial killers and paedophiles with ever sicker twists, but as long as they are situated in the usual urban cities (NY, London, etc), there will inevitably be a sense of dejavu.
The Scandinavian locations always takes me beyond plot and genre to the human condition. That's one of the main reasons for reading Scandinavian (Crime) Fiction.
"Closed For Winter" fails to deliver on this sense of dislocation. At times I felt I was reading another non-scandinavian novel...Talk about trade on their own stereotypes for one.
This time some of the abovementioned characteristics are absent (I won't tell you which ones...Check them out for yourself).
The east-european connection for one, failed to ilicit any kind of emotional response from me. On top of that it was poorly written. No sense of place and character was conveyed by the interplay between Wisting and the east-european characters. They were mere ciphers and not Men...
"Closed For Winter" was quite different in tone and quality writing when compared with "Dregs" (see my review).