Your Early 2019 Nordic Noir Reading List
All the Early 2019 Scandinavian Crime Fiction that belongs on your TBR
On-Sale Dates: January 2019 - March 2019
Nothing beats a great Scandinavian crime novel in the chilly winter months, and this winter is brimming with fantastic Nordic Noir for you to devour. Whether you’re a fan of paperbacks or hardcovers, series installments or standalones, there’s a Nordic crime novel for you releasing this winter—and you’ll find my personal picks for highly-anticipated early 2019 releases right here! In this post, I’m rounding up the most exciting Scandinavian crime fiction releasing from January 2019 through March 2019. Some of these titles are paperback releases of hardcovers I’ve already read (and loved!), some are brand-new hardcovers that I haven’t even read yet—but they’re all highly-anticipated releases that I’m so excited to share with you! If you’re looking for a new Nordic Noir release (or two!) to devour this winter, look no further: your early 2019 Nordic Noir reading list is right here.
Note: a couple of the books included in this post are only slated for release in the UK at the moment; those books are labeled “UK Release.” All other books are US releases.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Crime by the Book is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the books included in this post.
Your Early 2019 Nordic Noir Reading List
THE SANDMAN by Lars Kepler
Paperback Edition | Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, Available January 8th
Story Setting: Sweden
Why I’m Excited: THE SANDMAN was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m so excited to get my hands on its gorgeous paperback edition! If you haven’t yet checked out Lars Kepler’s brilliant Joona Linna series, this will make a perfect place to start. It’s Book 4 in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone—or as your entree into this gripping series. On top of its stellar pacing and plot, THE SANDMAN features one of the most memorable - and terrifying - villains in recent memory: a character so bone-chilling that Lee Child himself compared him to Hannibal Lecter.
Plot Details: The #1 internationally best-selling thriller from the author of The Hypnotist tells the chilling story of a manipulative serial killer and the two brilliant police agents who must try to beat him at his own game.
Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden's most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman. Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek's capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael's sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it's too late--and before he gets inside her head.
THE CHESTNUT MAN by Søren Sveistrup
UK Release | Penguin UK, Available January 10th
Story Setting: Denmark
Why I’m Excited: I managed to read a bit of this new Scandinavian thriller a few months ago, and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy and see where the story goes! Sveistrup is best known as the writer behind the hugely popular TV show The Killing, and he brings to THE CHESTNUT MAN a certain page-turning plotting and engaging dialogue that reads like it’s made for TV, in the best way.
Plot Details: One blustery October morning in a quiet Copenhagen suburb, the police make a terrible discovery. A young woman is found brutally murdered with one of her hands missing. Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.
Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner, Mark Hess, is a burned-out investigator who's just been kicked out of Europol. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man - evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead; the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung. But the man who confessed to her murder is already behind bars and the case long since closed.
Soon afterwards, a second woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there's a connection between the Hartung case and the murdered women. But what is it?
Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it's clear that the killer is on a mission that is far from over . . .
Note: THE CHESTNUT MAN can be ordered from the UK via BookDepository here, or you can pre-order it on Amazon in the US (link below!), where it will be released in the fall of 2019.
THE LEGACY by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Paperback Edition | Minotaur, Available January 15th
Story Setting: Iceland
Why I’m Excited: Known for her dark, twisted plots, Yrsa Sigurdardottir lives up to her reputation in THE LEGACY. I absolutely loved this book when it released in hardcover last year, and am so excited that it’s now available in paperback! THE LEGACY is Book 1 in Yrsa’s new Children’s House series; Book 2, THE RECKONING, releases in February, making this the perfect time to play catch-up. If you love layered, gritty police procedurals infused with some seriously gory touches, THE LEGACY will be right up your alley.
Plot Details: The first in a stunning new series from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the author of The Silence of the Sea, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.
The Legacy is the first installment in a fantastic new Icelandic series featuring the psychologist Freyja and the police officer Huldar.
The only person who might have the answers to a baffling murder case is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.
Newly-promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja for her expertise with traumatized young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.
It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues, but can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?
RUPTURE by Ragnar Jonasson
Minotaur, Available January 22nd
Story Setting: Iceland
Why I’m Excited: Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series is one of my personal Nordic Noir favorites, and this week, the fourth book in the series releases in the U.S.! If you’re in the mood for an atmospheric mystery that feels very much inspired by classic crime, you will love the Dark Iceland books.
Plot Details: Hailed for combining the darkness of Nordic Noir with classic mystery writing, author Ragnar Jonasson’s books are haunting, atmospheric, and complex. Rupture, the latest Ari Thór thriller, delivers another dark mystery that is chillingly stunning with its complexity and fluidity.
Young policeman Ari Thór tries to solve a 50-year-old murder when new evidence surfaces. But the case proves difficult in a town where no one wants to know the truth, where secrets are a way of life. He's assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.
STALKER by Lars Kepler
Knopf, Available February 5th
Story Setting: Sweden
Why I’m Excited: Kepler, the pseudonym for a husband & wife writing team, delivers an absolutely twisted - and gripping - serial killer thriller in STALKER. This book might be set in Scandinavia, but it leans away from the genre’s more typical slow-burning plot, and instead favors the action-packed, page-turning pacing of a thriller. There’s so much to love here, from the book’s richly developed protagonists and antagonists to its short chapters that make binge-reading easy.
Plot Details: The internationally bestselling authors of The Sandman and The Hypnotist return with a terrifying new thriller: Detective Joona Linna--recently returned from compassionate leave--reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable sadistic killer.
The Swedish National Crime Unit receives a video of a young woman in her home, clearly unaware that she's being watched. Soon after the tape is received, the woman's body is found horrifically mutilated. With the arrival of the next, similar video, the police understand that the killer is toying with them, warning of a new victim, knowing there's nothing they can do. Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the investigation, and soon asks Detective Joona Linna for help. Linna, in turn, recruits Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist and expert in trauma, with whom Linna's worked before. Bark is leery of forcing people to give up their secrets. But this time, Bark is the one hiding things.
Years before, he had put a man away for an eerily similar crime, and now he's beginning to think that an innocent man may be behind bars--and a serial killer still on the loose. . .
THE RECKONING by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Minotaur, Available February 12th
Story Setting: Iceland
Why I’m Excited: Remember the second book in Yrsa’s Children’s House series that I mentioned earlier? This is it! THE RECKONING is every bit a fantastic follow-up to THE LEGACY; this complex, masterful procedural delves into a disturbing case, and asks readers to consider what happens when those in positions of power ignore the needs of society’s most vulnerable members. It’s dark, gritty, and emotionally resonant.
Plot Details: Vaka sits, regretting her choice of coat, on the cold steps of her new school. Her father appears to have forgotten to pick her up, her mother has forgotten to give her this week’s pocket money, and the school is already locked for the day. Grownups, she decides, are useless.
With no way to call home, she resigns herself to waiting on the steps until her father remembers her. When a girl approaches, Vaka recognizes her immediately from class, and from her unusual appearance: two of her fingers are missing. The girl lives at the back of the school, on the other side of a high fence, and Vaka asks to call her father from the girl's house. That afternoon is the last time anyone sees Vaka.
Detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja are called in. Soon, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.
From the international number one-bestselling author of The Silence of the Sea, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel Yrsa Sigurdardottir returns with the follow-up to The Legacy.
AFTER SHE’S GONE by Camilla Grebe
Ballantine, Available February 26th
Story Setting: Sweden
Why I’m Excited: Grebe is the author of one of my favorite books, THE ICE BENEATH HER—so naturally, any new book from her is one I must read! AFTER SHE’S GONE is an exceptional book in its own right. This compelling suspense story delivers an engrossing mystery and some genuinely impactful pieces of social commentary, too—a balance that’s both thoroughly entertaining and timely. There’s something about Grebe’s writing I just love, and AFTER SHE’S GONE delivers.
Plot Details: Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found.
The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary.
Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case—but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again.
HUNTING GAME by Helene Tursten
Soho Crime, Available February 26th
Story Setting: Sweden
Why I’m Excited: Helene Tursten has been a fixture of the Scandinavian crime genre for years now, but HUNTING GAME will provide readers with a fresh new opportunity to explore her work! This book launches a brand-new series for Tursten, and features a 28-year-old female lead and a “locked room mystery” style plot. Safe to say I am very excited about this one!
Plot Details: The first installment in Helene Tursten's brand new series featuring the strong, smart Detective Inspector Embla Nyström.
Twenty-eight-year-old Embla Nyström has been plagued by chronic nightmares and racing thoughts ever since she can remember. She has learned to channel most of her anxious energy into her position as Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden, and into sports. A talented hunter and prizewinning Nordic welterweight, she is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends.
But when Embla arrives at her uncle’s cabin in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group: Peter, enigmatic, attractive, and newly divorced. And she isn’t the only one to notice. One longtime member of the hunt doesn’t welcome the presence of an outsider and is quick to point out that with Peter, the group’s number reaches thirteen, a bad omen for the week. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follow, culminating in the disappearance of two hunters. Embla takes charge of the search, and they soon find one of the missing men floating facedown in the nearby lake. With the help of local reinforcements, Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer.
HER FATHER’S SECRET by Sara Blaedel
Grand Central, Available March 5th
Story Setting: Wisconsin, USA
Why I’m Excited: Blaedel’s Family Secrets trilogy puts a fresh new spin on Scandinavian crime writing. This series follows a Danish woman who leaves her home in Denmark to come to the United States and pursue the truth about her father, a man who abandoned his wife and child years prior. The first book in this series was all about laying the groundwork, and HER FATHER’S SECRET promises to increase the tension and chills.
Plot Details: After suddenly inheriting a funeral home from her father--who she hadn't heard from in decades--Ilka Jensen has impulsively abandoned her quiet life in Denmark to visit the small town in rural Wisconsin where her father lived. There, she's devastated to discover her father's second family: a stepmother and two half sisters she never knew existed. And who aren't the least bit welcoming, despite Ilka's efforts to reach out.
Then a local woman is killed, seemingly the unfortunate victim of a home invasion turned violent. But when Ilka learns that the woman knew her father, it becomes increasingly clear that she may not have been a completely random victim after all.
The more Ilka digs into her father's past, the more deeply entangled she becomes in a family drama that has spanned decades and claimed more than one life--and she may be the next victim...
THE SILVER ROAD by Stina Jackson
UK Release | Corvus, Available March 7th
Story Setting: Sweden
Why I’m Excited: I’ve actually already read THE SILVER ROAD, and what a stellar read it is. This book reads more like Winter’s Bone than it does like a typical Scandinavian crime novel. Set against the grit and sparsity of northern Sweden, THE SILVER ROAD is a story that feels universal in the small-town life and interpersonal dynamics it portrays. This slow burn of a suspense story is utterly immersive and atmospheric—a perfect choice if you want a book that will pick you up and drop you off in the middle of a town steeped in despair, and characters much the same.
Plot Details: Three years ago, Lelle's daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption.
Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle's daughter was - a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place.
As autumn's darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja's lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined.
NOTE: If you’re based in the US, you can find this title on BookDepository here.