Those of you who have been following along with my blog & its social media accounts know that I am seriously obsessed with Scandinavian crime fiction. It is my greatest crime fiction love, and I will always be on the hunt for the next great Nordic noir author. Stieg Larsson’s iconic Millennium Series brought Nordic Noir to the U.S. in full force, paving the way for other equally addictive Scandinavian series. In the wake of the newest Millennium installment, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, I want to revisit this genre, and share with you my most-recommended Nordic Noir authors. Grab your winter coat, we’re going north.
Jo Nesbø, THE HARRY HOLE SERIES (Vintage Books)
Meet troubled Oslo police officer Harry Hole (last name pronounced “Hoo-leh”), a loner with a serious load of personal baggage who spends his days fighting his personal demons and the criminals of his city. In this 10-book series, author Jo Nesbø masterfully crafts a gritty, atmospheric, raw story of destruction and redemption. Nesbø creates complex, deeply relatable characters over the course of this series. While each book is a self-contained mystery, his characters are drawn and developed across the 10 books. Jump into this series at book 3 (THE REDBREAST); Nesbø’s books get better as the series goes on. My all-time favorite crime fiction series.
Camilla Läckberg, THE PATRIK HEDSTRÖM SERIES (Multiple publishers)
Läckberg’s 8-book crime fiction series features journalist-turned-crime writer Erica Falck and police detective Patrick Hedström. Set in the small fishing town of Fjällbacka, Sweden, the reader follows intrepid journalist Erica as she investigates crimes affecting her hometown. This series is remarkable for its character development; Läckberg creates a deep emotional bond between her characters, and the reader can’t help but feel personally invested in their success and happiness. Erica is an awesome female lead: she is equal parts headstrong and human, making her both admirable and relatable. You will celebrate and cry with these characters as they navigate their dangerous personal and professional lives. These books also tend to end on serious cliffhangers—make sure to always have the next book in the series lined up!
Åsa Larsson, THE REBECKA MARTINSSON SERIES (Delta)
When big-city lawyer Rebecka Martinsson heads home to her native Kiruna, a small village in northern Sweden, she becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding the death of a man found mutilated on the floor of the town’s church. The ramifications of this act of violence will follow Rebecka well after the case is closed. Åsa Larsson’s 5-book series follows Rebecka’s struggle to regain her sense of self after her exposure to life or death violence in the first book of the series, SUN STORM. An under-acknowledged series, I love Åsa Larsson’s books for their intensity and fast-paced plots.
Jussi Adler-Olsen, THE DEPARTMENT Q SERIES (Dutton)
When fallen-from-grace Detective Carl Mørck is reassigned to head the new Department Q for the Copenhagen police, he is sure he is being punished for past mistakes. Department Q is an under-funded, under-staffed investigative department dedicated to cold cases, and relegated to a dank basement underneath police headquarters. What seems like punishment becomes an opportunity for redemption. Jussi Adler-Olsen’s story combines sharp detective work with a story of personal reinvention. This 6-book series is compelling, smart, and full of unforeseen developments.
There are TONS of other incredibly talented Scandinavian authors out there. Other authors worth investigating include Henning Mankell (the king of Scandinavian crime fiction), Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (the godparents of Scandinavian crime fiction), Håkan Nesser, and Sara Blaedel.