There’s nothing better than a good Scandinavian crime novel. The genre’s grit, moody atmosphere, sharp social commentary, and complex characters never fail to deliver my favorite crime fiction reads—and this fall is going to be a huge one for new Scandinavian crime releases! From new series installments to compelling standalones to a major movie adaptation, there’s a little something for everyone releasing this fall.
Organized by month, CBTB’s Fall 2017 Nordic Noir Reading List is your guide to all the upcoming releases that will be on my TBR—and that should be on your list too.
ORDEAL by Jorn Lier Horst
Minotaur Books; 8/8/17
Story Setting: Norway
I recently read - and loved - Jorn Lier Horst’s newest William Wisting novel, ORDEAL. This series stands out for its detail-oriented nature—the author worked in the police in Norway for many years before turning to crime writing, and his real life experience infuses his fiction with a welcome dose of reality. But what makes ORDEAL truly compelling is the balance of endearing, kind-hearted characters and complex, compelling crime investigation. Highly recommended for readers looking for a slow-burning, layered police procedural. Stay tuned for my full review!
Frank Mandt died after a fall down his basement steps, the same basement that holds a locked safe bolted to the floor. His granddaughter, Sofie Lund, inherits the house but wants nothing to do with his money. She believes the old man let her mother die in jail and is bitterly resentful.
Line Wisting’s journalist instincts lead her into friendship with Sofie, and Line is with her when the safe is opened. What they discover unlocks another case and leads Chief Inspector William Wisting on a trial of murder to an ordeal that will eventually separate the innocent from the damned.
FAITHLESS by Kjell Ola Dahl
Orenda Books; 9/1/17
Story Setting: Norway
Fans of classic crime fiction will love the Norwegian twist on the genre provided by Kjell Ola Dahl. One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Kjell Ola Dahl is known for his slow-burning police procedurals—his Oslo Detectives series focuses on intricate police work and layered investigations rather than the grit and violence of some of his Nordic Noir peers. Read my full review here.
When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her—and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers—and the killer—before he strikes again. Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, atmospheric page-turner marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.
THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE by David Lagercrantz
Story Setting: Sweden
Sure to be topping everyone’s reading list this fall, THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE is the newest installment in the Millennium series originated by Stieg Larsson, and now picked up by David Lagercrantz. There’s always so much room for error when it comes to a new author continuing a beloved series, but I personally wholly enjoyed Lagercrantz’s first Millennium novel, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB. Sure, it’s not the same as Larsson’s work—but Lagercrantz does a great job incorporating his own style with Larsson’s tradition. I cannot wait to get a copy of this one!
Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others—even she has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And she will let nothing stop her—not the Islamists she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the prison gang leader who passes a death sentence on her; not the deadly reach of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudoscientific experiment known only as The Registry. Once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment.
THE SCARRED WOMAN by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Dutton Books; 9/19/17
Story Setting: Denmark
*Note: This is a work book for me!*
I have the pleasure of working on Jussi Adler-Olsen’s forthcoming book at my job, so I won’t be providing commentary on the book! I’ll just share a bit of background information on Jussi Adler-Olsen: he’s Denmark’s #1-selling crime writer, and his Department Q series follows Copenhagen’s cold case division. THE SCARRED WOMAN is Book 7 in the series, but can be read as a standalone.
Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen's cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.
In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.
Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.
THE DEVIL’S WEDDING RING by Vidar Sundstol
University of Minnesota Press; 9/26/17
Story Setting: Norway
THE DEVIL’S WEDDING RING might just be a sleeper hit for Nordic Noir readers this fall. A story that combines a modern investigation with ancient folklore, this book sounds creepy and compelling—plus, it’s already receiving great reviews from trade reviewers! I’m always on the lookout for the unexpected or lesser known reads that deserve more attention, and this one might just be a winner.
On Midsummer Eve in 1985, a young folklore researcher disappears from the village of Eidsborg in the Telemark region of Norway. Exactly thirty years later, the student Cecilie Wiborg goes missing. She too had been researching the old, pagan rituals associated with the 13th-century Eidsborg stave church. And then Knut Abrahamsen, a former police officer from the area, is found drowned in the nearby Tokke River, a presumed suicide since his pockets were filled with stones.
Hearing of the death of his former colleague and friend, private investigator Max Fjellanger feels compelled to leave his long-time home in Florida and return to his native Norway to attend Knut’s funeral. Even though they haven’t spoken in more than three decades, Max is not convinced that Knut killed himself. There are details about the circumstances of his death that just don’t add up. And there seems to be a link to the case of the missing researcher in Telemark, which the two of them had worked together—until threats from a corrupt sheriff put an end to the investigation and to Max’s career on the police force.
This time Max is determined to find out the truth. Reluctantly he finds himself drawn into a dark universe in which ancient superstitions, religious cults, and sinister forces are still very much alive. And the stave church, with its famed wooden statue of Saint Nikuls, is at the center of it all.
Finding an unlikely partner in Tirill Vesterli—a university librarian and single mother who is obsessed with crime novels—Max is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. As Max and Tirill quickly learn, it’s a misconception that the past is past—the truth is that it’s never over.
Movie Adaptation: THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbo
Movie Release Date: 10/20/17
This October, my all-time favorite book will be adapted into a feature film starring MIchael Fassbender! THE SNOWMAN is Book 7 in Nesbo’s internationally-bestselling Harry Hole series, and is my personal favorite. While of course it’s always preferable to read a book series in order for full character development, you can read THE SNOWMAN as a standalone—in fact, in just about a week, I’m going to be launching something very exciting for readers who want to check out the book in anticipation of the movie release! In the meantime, you can check out my Beginner's Guide to Jo Nesbo here.
One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow. But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity.
It's going to be a fantastic fall for Nordic Noir readers! Are any of these books on your TBR? I'd love to hear from you!