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Nordic Noir

nordicnoir

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. Henning Mankell’s “Kurt Wallander” series, which began in the early 1990s also made an impression. However, the category of crime writing now known as Nordic Noir, or Scandinavian Noir, or “scandi-noir”, didn’t truly 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, but whose series has been continued by David Lagenkrantz) 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.

“Nordic Noir” is also a style of television drama, whether adapted from an existing book (or series) or written originally for the screen. Most of these series are produced for the countries in the Nordic region, and end up being exported to English-language markets in either dubbed or subtitled versions. Significant entries in the “Nordic Noir” category of television shows include: The Bridge, The Killing, Bordertown, Trapped, Wisting, Borgen, Wallander, The Valhalla Murders, and many more.

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. For the purposes of this list, we have focused only on Nordic Noir authors whose works have been translated into English. For a more comprehensive list, including authors whose works have not been translated, see the Wikipedia article on Nordic Noir. 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.


The formative series (Martin Beck) that stylistically launched the “Nordic Noir” literary trend:

Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall (Sweden)

Inspector Jensen
— Murder on the Thirty-First Floor (1964)
Steel Springs (1968)

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)


Contemporary authors writing in the “Nordic Noir” style:

Jussi Adler-Olsen (Denmark)

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)
The Marco Effect (a.k.a. Buried) (2014)
The Hanging Girl (2015)
The Scarred Woman (2017)
Victim 2117 (2020)

Karin Alvtegen (Sweden)

(stand-alone novels)
— Missing (2003)
— Betrayal (2005)
— Shame (a.k.a. Sacrifice) (2006)
— Guilt (2007)
— Shadow (2009)

Samuel Bjork (Norway) (a.k.a. Frode Sander Øien)

Holger Munch & Mia Kruger
I’m Traveling Alone (2015)
The Owl Always Hunts at Night (2016)
— The Boy in the Headlights (2019)

Sara Blædel (Denmark)

Louise Rick/Camilla Lind
The Midnight Witness (2018)
Call Me Princess (2011)
Only One Life (2012)
Farewell to Freedom (2012)
The Running Girl (2018)
The Stolen Angel (2018)
The Forgotten Girls (2015)
The Killing Forest (2016)
The Lost Woman (2017)
— The Woman in the Hotel (2018) (novella)
— A Harmless Lie (2022)

Alex Dahl (American/Norwegian)

(stand-alone novels)
The Boy at the Door (2018)
The Heart Keeper (2019)
Playdate (2020)
Cabin Fever (2021)

Arne Dahl (Sweden) (a.k.a. Jan Arnald)

Paul Hjelm/Intercrime
Misterioso (a.k.a. The Blinded Man) (2011)
— Bad Blood (2013)
— To the Top of the Mountain (2014)
— Europa Blues (2015)

Detective Sam Berger
— Watching You (2017)
— Hunted (2019)
— You Are Next (2020)

Arne Dahl – Season 1 (Swedish tv-series adapting several of the author’s novels — available as a Hoopla digital checkout)

Kjell Olga Dahl (a.k.a. K.O. Dahl) (Norway)

Frank Frolich
— The Fourth Man (2007)
— The Man in the Window (2008)
— The Last Fix (2009)
— Sister (2020)

Oslo Detectives
— Lethal Investments (2011)
Faithless (2017)
The Ice Swimmer (2018)

Leif Davidsen (Denmark)

(stand-alone novels)
Unholy Alliance (1988)
The Russian Singer (1991)
The Serbian Dane (2006)
The Woman from Bratislava (2009)

Ake Edwardson (Sweden)

Erik Winter
Sun and Shadow (2005)
Never End (2006)
Frozen Tracks (2007)
Death Angels (2009)
The Shadow Woman (2010)
Sail of Stone (2012)
Room No. 10 (2013)

Kerstin Ekman (Sweden)

(stand-alone novels)
Blackwater (1993)
Under the Snow (1997)

Thomas Enger (Norway)

Henning Juul
— Burned (2011)
— Pierced (2012)
— Scarred (2014)
Cursed (2017)
Killed (2017)

Alexander Blix (co-written by Jorn Lier Horst)
Death Deserved (2019)
— Smoke Screen (2020)
— Unhinged (2022)

(stand-alone novels)
Inborn (2019)

Kjell Eriksson (Sweden)

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)
Open Grave (2015)
Stone Coffin (2017)
The Night of the Fire (2020)
— The Deathwatch Beetle (2021)

Karin Fossum (Norway)

Inspector Sejer
Eva’s Eye (a.k.a. In the Darkness (2004)
Don’t Look Back (2002)
He Who Fears the Wolf (2003)
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)
The Murder of Harriet Krohn (2014)
The Drowned Boy (2015)
Hell Fire (2016)
The Whisperer (2018)

(stand-alone novels)
Broken (2008)
I Can See in the Dark (2013)

Camilla Grebe (Sweden)

Siri Bergman (series co-written with sister Åsa Träff)
Some Kind of Peace (2012)
— More Bitter Than Death (2013)

Hanne Lagerlind-Schon
The Ice Beneath Her (2016)
After She’s Gone (2019)

(stand-alone novels)
The Hideout (2021)

Peter Hoeg (Denmark)

(stand-alone novels)
The History of Danish Dreams (1988)
Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992)
Borderliners (1994)
The Woman and the Ape (1996)
— Tales of the Night (1998)
The Quiet Girl (2007)
The Elephant Keeper’s Children (2012)
— The Susan Effect (2017)

Anne Holt

Vik and Stubo
Punishment (a.k.a. What Is Mine) (2006)
— The Final Murder (2007)
— Death in Oslo (2009)
— Fear Not (2011)
— What Dark Clouds Hide (2017)

Hanne Wilhelmsen
The Blind Goddess (2012)
Blessed Are Those Who Thirst (2012)
Death of the Demon (2013)
The Lion’s Mouth (2014)
Dead Joker (2015)
No Echo (2016)
Beyond the Truth (2016)
1222 (2007?)
Offline (2017) (a.k.a. “Odd Numbers”)
In Dust and Ashes (2017)

Selma Falck
— A Grave for Two (2019)
— A Necessary Death (2020)
— A Memory for Murder (2021)

Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland)

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)
Into Oblivion (2015)

Flovent and Thorson
The Shadow District (2017)
The Shadow Killer (2018)

Detective Konrad
The Darkness Knows (2021)

Stina Jackson (Sweden/American)

(stand-alone novels)
The Silver Road (2019)
The Last Snow (2021)

Anna Jansson (Sweden)

Maria Wern
— Killer’s Island (2012)
— Strange Bird (2013)

Ragnar Jónasson (Iceland)

Dark Iceland
Snowblind (2015)
Nightblind (2015)
Blackout (2016)
Rupture (2016)
Whiteout (2017)
Winterkill (2020)

Hidden Iceland/Hulda
The Darkness (2018)
The Island (2019)
The Mist (2020)

Christian Jungersen (Denmark)

(stand-alone novels)
The Exception (2006)
— You Disappear (2014)

Mari Jungstedt (Sweden)

Anders Knutas
— Unssen (2006)
— Unspoken (2007)
— The Inner Circle (a.k.a. Unknown) (2008)
— The Killer’s Art (2010)
— The Dead of Summer (2011)
— Dark Angel (2012)
— Double Silence (2013)
— The Dangerous Game (2015)
— The Fourth Victim (2016)

Canary Island (written with Ruben Eliassen
— A Darker Sky (2016)

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis (Denmark)

Nina Borg
The Boy in the Suitcase (2011)
Invisible Murder (2012)
Death of a Nightingale (2013)
The Considerate Killer (2016)

(Lene Kaaberbol also writes several other series, but mostly for youth or young adult)

Mons Kallentoft (Sweden)

Detective Inspector Mallin Fors
Midwinter Sacrifice (a.k.a. Midwinter Blood) (2011)
Summertime Death (a.k.a. Summer Death) (2012)
— Autumn Killing (2012)
Savage Spring (a.k.a. Spring Remains) (2013)
— The Fifth Season (2014)
— Water Angels (2015)
— Souls of Air (2016)
— Earth Storm (2018)

Robert Karjel (Sweden)

Ernst Grip
The swede (a.k.a. My Name is N) (2015)
After the Monsoon (2018)

Lars Kepler (Sweden)

Detective Inspector Joona Linna
The Hypnotist (2011)
The Nightmare (2011)
The Fire Witness (2011)
The Sandman (2011)
The Stalker (2016)
The Rabbit Hunter (2017)
Lazarus (2020)
— The Mirror Man (2022)

Camilla Läckberg (Sweden)

Patrik 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)
The Ice Child (2016)
The Girl in the Woods (2018)
Camilla Läckberg Season 1 (Hoopla video)
Camilla Läckberg’s Fjallbacka Murders Season One (Hoopla video)

David Lagerkrantz (Sweden)

The Millennium Series — Continuing the series started by Stieg Larsson (see below)
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015)
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (2017)
The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019)

(stand-alone novels)
Fall of Man in Wilmslow: The Death and Life of Alan Turing (2015)

Hans Olav Lahlum (Norway)

DI Kolbjorn Kristiansen
— The Human Files (2014)
— Satellite People (2015)
— The Catalyst Killing (2015)
— Chameleon People (2016)
— The Anthill Murders (2017)

Jens Lapidus (Sweden)

Stockholm
— Easy Money (2012)
— Never Screw Up (2013)
— Life Deluxe (2014)

Dark Stockholm
— Stockholm Delte (2017)
— Top Dog (2018)

Asa Larsson (Sweden)

Rebecka Martinsson
Sun Storm (2006)
The Blood Split (2007)
The Black Path (2008)
Until Thy Wrath Be Past (2011)
The Second Deadly Sin (2013)

Stieg Larsson (Sweden)

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)
Series continued by David Lagercrantz (see entry above)

Leena Lehtolainen (Finland)

Maria Kallio
My First Murder (2012)
— Her Enemy (2013)
— Copper Heart (2013)
— Snow Woman (2014)
— Death Spiral (2015)
— Fatal Headwind (2016)
— Before I Go (2017)
— Below the Surface (2017)
— The Nightingale Murder (2018)
— Derailed (2017)
— Where Have All the Young Girls Gone (2019)

Bodyguard
— The Bodyguard (2014)
— The Lion of Justice (2015)
— The Devil’s Club (2016)

Henning Mankell (Sweden)

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: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (1999) (short story collection including “Wallander’s First Case”, which has also been published as a stand-alone volume)
The Troubled Man (2009)
An Event in Autumn (2014)
Wallander TV Series (starring Kenneth Brannagh)
Wallander Season 1
Wallander Season 2
Wallander Season 3
Wallander Season 4

Linda Wallander
Before the Frost (2004)

Liza Marklund (Sweden)

Annika Bengtzen
— Paradise (2000)
— The Bomber (2001)
— Prime Time (2002)
— Studio Sex (2002)
Red Wolf (2003)
Last Will (2012)
— Lifetime (2013)
— Long Shadow (2013)
Borderland (2014}
— Without a Trace (2015)
— The Final Word (2016)

(stand-alone novels)
The Postcard Killers (2010) (co-authored with James Patterson)

Jakob Melander (Denmark)

Lars Winkler
The House That Jack Built (2014)
The Scream of the Butterfly (2015)

Jo Nesbø (Norway)

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)
The Thirst (2017)
Knife (2019)

Blood on Snow series
Blood on Snow (2015)
Midnight Sun (2015)

(stand-alone novels)
Headhunters (2011)
The Son (2014)
The Kingdom (2020)

Håkan Nesser (Sweden)

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)

Gunnar Barbarotti
— A Man With a Killer’s Face (2017)

Leif G.W. Persson (Sweden)

Story of a Crime
Beween Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End (2010)
Another Time, Another Life (2011)
Free Falling, As If In a Dream (a.k.a. Falling Freely, As If In a Dream) (2014)

Evert Backstrom
Linda, As in The Linda Murder (2013)
He Who Kills the Dragon (2013)
— The Sword of Justice (2016)

(stand-alone novel)
The Dying Detective (2016)

Stein Riverton (Norway)

The Iron Chariot (1909)

Matti Rönkä (Finland)

(stand-alone novels)
— Missing (2003)
— Betrayal (2005)
— Shame (a.k.a. Sacrifice) (2006)
— Guilt (2007)
— Shadow (2009)

Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom (Sweden)

Ewert Grens
— The Beast (2005)
Box 21 (2009)
Three Seconds (2010)
Cell 8 (2011)
— Two Soldiers (2013)
— Three Minutes (2017)
— Three Hours (2019)
Knock Knock (2021)

Pernille Rygg (Norway)

(stand-alone novels)
— The Butterfly Effect (1997)
— The Golden Section (2003)

Emilie Schepp (Sweden)

Jana Berzilius
Marked For Life (2016)
Marked For Revenge (2017)
Slowly We Die (2018)

Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

Sonja
Snare (2017)
Trap (2018
Cage (2019)

Accora Investigation
— Cold as Hell (2021)

(stand-alone novels)
Betrayal (2020)

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

Thóra Gudmundsdóttir
Last Rituals (2007)
My Soul to Take (2008)
Ashes to Dust (2010)
— The Day is Dark (2011)
Someone to Watch Over Me (2013)
The Silence of the Sea (2014)

Freyja and Huldar
The Legacy (2017)
The Reckoning (2018)
The Absolution (2019)
— Gallow’s Rock (2020)
— The Doll (2021)
— The Silence (2022)

Gunnar Staalesen (Norway)

Varg Veum (not all translated into English 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)
We Shall Inherit the Wind (2015)
Where Roses Never Die (2015)
Big Sister (2018)
Wolves in the Dark (2017)
Wolves at the Door (2019)
Fallen Angels (2020)
— Bitter Flowers (2021)

Erik Axl Sund (Sweden)

( Jerker Eriksson and Håkan Axlander Sundquist co-writing under this pseudonym)

Victoria Bergman
The Crow Girl (2010)
— Hunger Fire (2011)
— Pythia’s Instructions (2012)

Melancholia Trilogy
— Glass Bodies (2014)
(others not yet translated)

Vidar Sundstøl (Norway)

Minnesota Trilogy
The Land of Dreams (2013)
— Only the Dead (2014)
— The Ravens (2015)

(stand-alone novels)
The Devil’s Wedding Ring (2017)

Soren Sveistrup (Denmark)

(stand-alone novels)
The Chestnut Man (2019)

Johan Theorin (Sweden)

Oland
— Echoes From the Dead (2008)
— The Darkest Room (2009)
— The Quarry (2011)
— The Voices Beyond (2015)

(stand-alone novel)
— The Asylum (2013)

James Thompson (American living in Finland)

Inspector Vaara
Snow Angels (2009)
Lucifer’s Tears (2011)
Helsinki White (2012)
Helsinki Blood (2013)
— Helsinki Dead (2015)

Antti Tuomainen (Finland)

(stand-alone novels — more that have not been translated into English)
The Healer (2013)
Dark As My Heart (2015)
The Mine (2016)
The Man Who Died (2017)
Palm Beach, Finland (2018)
Little Siberia (2019)

Helene Tursten (Sweden)

Inspector Huss
Detective Inspector Huss (2003)
The Torso (2006)
The Glass Devil (2007)
Night Rounds (2012)
The Golden Calf (2013)
The Fire Dance (2014)
The Beige Man (2015)
The Treacherous Net (2015)
Who Watcheth (2016)
Protected by the Shadows (2017)

Elderly Lady
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good (2018)
An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed (2021)

Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom
Hunting Game (2019)
Winter Grave (2019)
Snowdrift (2020)

Carl-Johan Vallgren (Sweden)

Danny Katz thrillers
The Boy in the Shadows (2015)
The Tunnel (2016)

(also the author of several stand-alone novels, but mostly “magical realism”, not mystery/suspense/thriller)

Jan Costin Wagner (Finland)

Kimoo Joentaa
— Ice Moon (2006)
Silence (2010)
— The Winter of the Lions (2011)
— Light in a Dark house (2013)

ANTHOLOGIES

A Darker Shade of Sweden: Original Stories by Sweden’s Greatest Crime Writers (2014) (813.08 Hol)

Akashic Noir series
Helsinki Noir (2014)
Stockholm Noir (2016) (839.7 Sto)

Compiled November 2011 sdc | Last updated August 2021 sdc

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