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Nordic Noir


Call it "the genre literary movement 'the Girl' gave birth to". Though that's a bit misleading. Writers from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland have been plumbing the psychological depths of killers and cops for quite some time -- notably the writing team of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, who combined for ten books featuring detective Martin Beck from 1965 to 1975. However, the category of crime writing now known as Nordic Noir didn't gain a huge following outside of its European origins until Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo achieved explosive international fame in 2008, with over 27 million copies sold in 40 different countries.

The elements that contribute to make Nordic Noir a distinctive subgenre of mystery/thriller are as follows: streamlined language, downtrodden, world-weary, troubled and often anti-social heroes, and settings of cool, dark climates with strong anti-political, anti-government social attitudes. Most of these elements are common to the traditional American "noir" novels -- think Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, and Elmore Leonard. However, the one thing that differs in Nordic Noir from traditional American Noir is the somewhat scathing look at the contemporary Scandinavian socio-political world. For an intensely liberal, admired culture that enjoys a strong welfare state, there's a great deal of dissatisfaction and frustration with government, big business and traditional organizations of power and influence, including law enforcement! In addition to Stieg Larsson (who died in 2004) and Henning Mankell (whose deeply-troubled protagonist Kurt Wallander has been successfully interpreted on television by Kenneth Brannagh), some of the key authors in this increasingly popular new literary category are: Arne Dahl, Ake Edwardson, Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indridason, Lars Kepler, Camilla Lackberg, Jo Nesbo, Hakan Nesser and Helene Tursten, though these just scratch the surface.

Here are links to a couple of excellent recent articles about the fundamental elements and best-known authors of what has become known as Nordic Noir: "Inspector Norse" in The Economist, March 11 2010 and Excellent article from Cleveland.com about Larsson opening the market.

All books in this list which are owned by Lincoln City Libraries are hotlinked to their entries in our library catalog, so that you may check on their current availability. The novels in this category are usually published in non-English languages, and often take a year or more to be translated for the English-speaking market. Some titles not owned by the libraries are included in this list due to their noteworthy nature, or their position as part of a series. If you see a title on this list that is not hotlinked to our collection, please consider ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan department.

Jussi Adler-Olsen
[Denmark]
Keeper of Lost Causes
Inspector Carl Morck
-- The Keeper of Lost Causes (a.k.a. Mercy) [2011]
-- The Absent One (a.k.a. Disgrace) [2012]
-- A Conspiracy of Faith (a.k.a. Redemption) [2013]
-- The Purity of Vengeance (a.k.a. Contempt) [2014]

Sara Blaedel
[Denmark]
Call Me Princess
Louise Rick/Camilla Lind
-- Call Me Princess [2011]
-- Only One Life [2012]
-- Farewell to Freedom [2012]

Arne Dahl
[Sweden]
Misterioso
Paul Hjelm
-- Misterioso (a.k.a. The Blinded Man) [2011]
-- Bad Blood [2013]
-- To the Top of the Mountain [2014]

Kjell Olga Dahl
[Norway]
The Fourth Man
Frank Frolich
-- The Fourth Man [2007]
-- The Man in the Window [2008]
-- The Last Fix [2009]

Ake Edwardson
[Sweden]
Sun and Shadow
Erik Winter
-- Sun and Shadow [2005]
-- Never End [2006]
-- Frozen Tracks [2007]
-- Death Angels [2009]
-- The Shadow Woman [2010]
-- Sail of Stone [2012]

Kerstin Ekman
[Sweden]
Blackwater
(stand-alone novels)
-- Blackwater [1993]
-- Under the Snow [1997]

Kjell Eriksson
[Sweden]
Princess of Burundi
Ann Lindell
-- The Princess of Burundi [2006]
-- The Cruel Stars of the Night [2007]
-- The Demon From Dakar [2008]
-- The Hand That Trembles [2011]
-- Black Lies, Red Blood [2014]

Karin Fossum
[Norway]
Don't Look Back
Inspector Sedger
-- Eva's Eye (a.k.a. In the Darkness [2004]
-- Don't Look Back [2002]
-- When the Devil Holds the Candle [2004]
-- The Indian Bride (a.k.a.. Calling Out For You [2005]
-- Black Seconds [2007]
-- The Water's Edge [2009]
-- Bad Intentions [2010]
-- The Caller [2011]

Peter Hoeg
[Denmark]
History of Danish Dreams
unconnected stand-alone novels
-- The History of Danish Dreams [1988]
-- Smilla's Sense of Snow [1992]
-- Borderliners [1994]
-- The Woman and the Ape [1996]
-- The Quiet Girl [2007]

Anne Holt
1222
Vik and Stubo
-- Punishment [2006]
-- The Final Murder [2007]
-- Death in Oslo [2009]
-- Fear Not [2011]
Hanne Wilhelmsen
-- The Blind Goddess [2012]
-- Blessed Are Those Who Thirst [2012]
-- Death of the Demon [2013]
Stand-Alones
1222 [2010]

Arnaldur Indridason
[Iceland]
Silence of the Grave
Reykjavik Murder Mysteries
-- Jar City (a.k.a. Tainted Blood) [2004]
-- Silence of the Grave [2005]
-- Voices [2006]
-- The Draining Lake [2007]
-- Arctic Chill [2008]
-- Hypothermia [2009]
-- Outrage [2009]
-- Black Skies [2009]
-- Strange Shores [2009]
-- Reykjavik Nights [2009]

Christian Jungersen
[Denmark]
The Exception
(stand-alone novels)
-- The Exception [2006]
-- You Disappear [forthcoming in 2014]

Lars Kepler
[Sweden]
The Hypnotist
Detective Inspector Joona Linna
-- The Hypnotist [2011]
-- The Nightmare [2011]
-- The Fire Witness [2011]
-- The Sandman [2011]

Camilla Lackberg
[Sweden]
The Ice Princess
Patrick Hedstrom
-- The Ice Princess [2008]
-- The Preacher [2008]
-- The Stonecutter [2009]
-- The Stranger (a.k.a. The Gallows Bird) [2011]
-- The Hidden Child [2011]
-- The Drowning [2012]
-- The Lost Boy [2013]
-- Buried Angels [2014]

Stieg Larsson
[Sweden]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Millennium Trilogy
-- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [2008]
-- The Girl Who Played With Fire [2009]
-- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest [2009]

Henning Mankell
[Sweden]
Faceless Killers
Kurt Wallander
-- Faceless Killers [1991]
-- The Dogs of Riga [1992]
-- The White Lioness [1993]
-- The Man Who Smiled [1994]
-- Sidetracked [1995]
-- The Fifth Woman [1996]
-- One Step Behind [1997]
-- Firewall [1998]
-- The Pyramid [1999]
-- The Troubled Man [2009]
-- An Event in Autumn [2014]
Linda Wallander
-- Before the Frost [2004]

Liza Marklund
[Sweden]
Paradise
Annika Bengtzen
-- Paradise [2000]
-- The Bomber [2001]
-- Prime Time [2002]
-- Studio Sex [2002]
-- Red Wolf [2003]
-- Last Will [2012]
-- Lifetime [2013]
-- Long Shadow [2013]

Jo Nesb°
[Norway]
The Bat
Harry Hole
-- The Bat [2012]
-- Cockroaches [2013]
-- The Redbreast [2006]
-- Nemesis [2008]
-- The Devil's Star [2005]
-- The Redeemer [2009]
-- The Snowman [2010]
-- The Leopard [2011]
-- Phantom [2012]
-- Police [2013]

Hňkan Nesser
[Sweden]
Borkmann's Point
Inspector Van Veeteren
-- The Mind's Eye [2008]
-- Borkmann's Point [2006]
-- The Return [2007]
-- Woman With Birthmark [2009]
-- The Inspector and Silence [2010]
-- Munster's Case (a.k.a. The Unlucky Lottery) [2011]
-- Hour of the Wolf [2012]
-- The Weeping Girl [2013]
-- The Strangler's Honeymoon [2013]
-- The G File [2014]

Anders Roslund
and Borge Hellstrom
[Sweden]
The Beast
Ewert Grens
-- The Beast [2005]
-- Box 21 [2007]
-- Three Seconds [2010]
-- Cell 8 [2011]

Pernille Rygg
[Norway]
The Butterfly Effect
(stand-alone novels)
-- The Butterfly Effect [1997]
-- The Golden Section [2003]

Yrsa Sigur­ardˇttir
[Iceland]
The Last Rituals
Thˇra Gudmundsdˇttir
-- Last Rituals [2007]
-- My Soul to Take [2008]
-- Ashes to Dust [2010]
-- The Day is Dark [2011]
-- Someone to Watch Over me [2013]

Gunnar Staalesen
[Norway]
The Writing on the Wall
Varg Veum (not all translated yet)
-- The Writing on the Wall [2002]
-- The Consorts of Death [2009]
-- At Night All Wolves are Grey [1986]
-- Yours Until Death [1993]
-- Cold Hearts [2012]

Johan Theorin
[Sweden]
Echoes From the Dead
A-land
-- Echoes From the Dead [2008]
-- The Darkest Room [2009]
-- The Quarry [2011]

James Thompson
[American living in Finland]
Snow Angels
Inspector Vaara
-- Snow Angels [2010]
-- Lucifer's Tears [2011]
-- Helsinki White [2012]
-- Helsinki Blood [2013]
-- Helsinki Dead [2014]

Helene Tursten
[Sweden]
Detective Inspector Huss
Inspector Huss
-- Detective Inspector Huss [2003]
-- The Torso [2006]
-- The Glass Devil [2007]
-- Night Rounds [2012]
-- The Golden Calf [2013]
-- The Fire Dance [2014]

Jan Costin Wagner
[Finland]
Ice Moon
Kimoo Joentaa
-- Ice Moon [2006]
-- Silence [2010]
-- The Winter of the Lions [2011]
-- Light in a Dark house [2013]

Per Wahloo
and Maj Sjowall
[Sweden]
Roseanna
Martin Beck
-- Roseanna [1965] -- features the murder, in Sweden, of a Librarian from Lincoln NE -- the Swedish detectives have to consult with the Lincoln Police Department during their investigation!
-- The Man Who Went Up in Smoke [1966]
-- The Man on the Balcony [1967]
-- The Laughing Policeman [1968]
-- The Fire Engine That Disappeared [1969]
-- Murder at the Savoy [1970]
-- The Abominable Man [1971]
-- The Locked Room [1972]
-- Cop Killer [1974]
-- The Terrorists [1975]

Compiled November 2011 sdc
Last updated January 2014 sdc

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