I spend a lot of time talking about and reading Scandinavian crime fiction, especially books by a handful of specific authors: Jo Nesbø, Sara Blaedel, Erik Axl Sund, and Camilla Läckberg, in particular. But there are so many fantastic Scandinavian authors out there whose books fans of the genre shouldn't miss, so today I'm sharing a roundup of 7 lesser-known Scandinavian crime novels for you to add to your reading list!
(Note: when I say "lesser known," that's a totally relative term - these authors have all achieved huge successes in their home countries, and around the world. Now it's time for us U.S. readers to show them the same love!)
1. MARKED FOR LIFE by Emelie Schepp. This is a stellar US debut from Swedish crime writer Schepp; a dark and compulsively-readable story following public prosecutor Jana Berzelius. Jana is a cold, emotionally-detached woman, and over the course of this novel, readers figure out exactly why—and the truth is dark and twisted, and will keep you hooked until the last page. Read my full review here; check out my Q&A with Emelie Schepp here.
2. I'M TRAVELING ALONE by Samuel Bjørk. This Norwegian crime novel released in early 2016, and completely blew me away! I now consider it an all-time favorite. In a Norwegian forest, a young girl is found dead and hanging from a tree, a sign around her neck reading "I'm Traveling Alone." The police department calls upon one of its best detectives (and one of my personal favorite female leads in a crime novel) to solve the case. What follows is a layered, meticulously-plotted story that balances numerous subplots and characters with impressive ease. Read my full review here.
3. SNOWBLIND by Ragnar Jónasson. Jónasson might no longer qualify as an "under-appreciated" author, as his books are taking off around the world - and rightfully so! But Ragnar's books are yet to come to the US, so for now, I feel comfortable keeping him on this list. (SNOWBLIND will release in January from Minotaur Books in the US!) SNOWBLIND is book 1 in Ragnar's atmospheric, masterfully-plotted Dark Iceland series. This series draws inspiration from Agatha Christie and the natural beauty - and menace - of Iceland, and it's a must-read. Read my full review of SNOWBLIND here; check out my Q&A with Ragnar here.
4. SUN STORM by Åsa Larsson. SUN STORM is book 1 in Larsson's Rebecka Martinsson series, a Swedish crime series which I read before starting CBTB and have continued to love ever since! SUN STORM brings big-city lawyer Rebecka back to her small, northern hometown when her childhood best friend's brother is murdered. Rebecka soon finds herself revisiting parts of her past she thought she had long left behind, and delving into dark secrets in her hometown. Larsson's books are perfect for fans of Sara Blaedel and Camilla Lackberg, with endearing characters, fast-paced plots, and lots of suspense.
5. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT by Jakob Melander. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT is book 1 in Melander's Lars Winkler series, and it was one of those books that I instantly felt in sync with. Lars Winkler is a totally sympathetic character—one of those classic "troubled cops" you can't help but root for. This book is less of a procedural, and more of a character study—pick this one up for a fast-paced read with a big heart at its core. Read my full review here; check out my Q&A with Jakob here.
6. BURNED by Thomas Enger. BURNED introduces readers to series character Henning Juul, a journalist who has recently suffered a tragic loss—his young son was killed in a house fire. BURNED finds Henning returning to work after the tragedy. When a young woman is found horrifically murdered in an Oslo city park, Henning becomes embroiled in a controversial and life-threatening investigation. Henning is one of my favorite characters I've been introduced to lately—a man with an acute awareness of his own failings, an unwavering devotion to his son, and a tender heart. Read my Q&A with Thomas Enger here.
7. MIDWINTER BLOOD by Mons Kallentoft. Another "book 1" in a series, MIDWINTER BLOOD introduces readers to Malin Fors: a single mother, a police superintendent, and a fiercely independent woman. When the body of a man is found brutally murdered and hanging from a tree in a remote field, Malin finds herself wrapped up in a case of twisted family secrets. I came to this book for its police procedural storyline; I stayed with it for Kallentoft's unique voice as an author. This book starts out slow, but will reward the patient reader in a big way. Read my review here.
Narrowing down this list was actually quite tricky—there are so many fantastic Scandinavian crime writers working today! If you'd like more recommendations, feel free to comment below and I'll be happy to share more!