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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 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)

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)

Karin Alvtegen (Sweden)

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

Sara Blædel (Denmark)

Louise Rick/Camilla Lind
Call Me Princess (2011)
Only One Life (2012)
Farewell to Freedom (2012)
The Forgotten Girls (2015)
The Killing Forest (2016)
— The Lost Woman (2017)

Arne Dahl (Sweden)

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

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)

Oslo Detectives
— Lethal Investments (2011)

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)

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)

Karin Fossum (Norway)

Inspector Sedger
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)
I Can See in the Dark (2013)

Peter Hoeg (Denmark)

unconnected 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)

Anne Holt

Vik and Stubo
— Punishment (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)

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)

Christian Jungersen (Denmark)

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

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)

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)

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)

Camilla Lackberg (Sweden)

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)
— The Ice Child (2016)

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
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015)

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 (1999)
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)

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

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)

Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom (Sweden)

Ewert Grens
— The Beast (2005)
Box 21 (2007)
Three Seconds (2010)
Cell 8 (2011)
— Two Soldiers (2013)
— Three Minutes (2017)

Pernille Rygg (Norway)

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

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)

Gunnar Staalesen (Norway)

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)
— We Shall Inherit the Wind
— Where Roses Never Die

Johan Theorin (Sweden)

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

James Thompson (American living in Finland)

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

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)

Jan Costin Wagner (Finland)

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)

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 November 2016 sdc