Elisabet Kågerman was a writer of detective novels, a translator, and a Swedish language teacher. She is best known for her historical murder mysteries.
Elisabet Kågerman was born in Halmstad in 1920. She married the librarian Stig Kågerman in 1943 and they remained together for the duration of their lives. They had four children: Lena, Pontus, Lotten, and Malin. Elisabet Kågerman was elected onto Norrländska författarsällskapet (the Norrland writers’ association) in 1958, during the chairmanship of the author PO Sundman. Elisabet Kågerman lived most of her life in Norrbotten with her family, where she worked as senior teacher at the Luleå school. In 1970 she and her family moved to Scania and the next year she joined Skånska deckarsällskapet (the Scanian detective novel association).
Elisabet Kågerman and her husband translated novels, crime fiction, and children’s fiction. Although she became best known for her detective novels she also wrote children’s books, one youth novel, one textbook on working-class literature, and an academic dissertation on Nordic linguistics, which she defended in 1985. After completing her dissertation Elisabet Kågerman and her husband moved to Spain where they intended to retire.
Of all her novels it is usually her debut novel from 1956 entitled Döden skriver svenska that tends to be mentioned. It is set in a school where a female teacher assumes the role of amateur detective. Elisabet Kågerman’s own professional experience of school-teaching is usually emphasised as the reason for the story’s realistic overtones and it is also said that her own family served as role models for the fictional junior teacher Kickan Store’s family. The sequel, Vågspel till döds, from 1957, is a metafictional detective novel, which at that time was somewhat unusual. Elisabet Kågerman is also known for being one of the few Swedish detective novel authors who also wrote historical murder mysteries, including Det bränns!, from 1958, and Gränsfall 1788, from 1979.
Elisabet Kågerman’s 1978 detective novel entitled Rabies was awarded the Expressen newspaper’s Sherlock prize as the best detective novel of the year. The jury panel clarified that their decision was based on their appreciation of the lead character, police detective Anja Kullnäs. Elisabet Kågerman thus became one of the first authors to write about a female police officer. It has also been highlighted that in that book Elisabet Kågerman successfully combined the subgenres of whodunits and police detective novels. Between the release of Resa på egen risk in 1961 and Citronplockerskan in 1975 Elisabet Kågerman took a 14-year sabbatical from writing, which she put down to her dismay at the escalation of violence within the detective novel genre in general. This reaction was shared by another detective novelist Dagmar Lange (Maria Lang), who resigned from Svenska deckarakademin (the Swedish detective novel academy) for the same reason in 1973.
Elisabet Kågerman died in Lund in 1997. Although her reputation as an important female role model within the detective novel genre is growing, she does not hold the same position as Lange or Ingegerd Stadener (Helena Poloni), for example.