New Readers: Start Here
Dear new Nordic Noir reader, welcome! Here is your reading list to begin your journey into Nordic Noir.
As with any genre, there are a few key readers whose works define it, and will give you a sense of whether or not this genre is for you. The best books to begin with are:
- Jo Nesbø, THE BAT
- The first in Nesbø's definitive Harry Hole series. The series undeniably improves as it progresses, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to series-reading. Start here for your introduction to Harry, and a taste of the writing style that makes Nesbø my favorite author. (If you feel adventurous and want to skip ahead, my favorite in the series is book 7, THE SNOWMAN.) Retail info here.
- Henning Mankell, FACELESS KILLERS
- Meet Inspector Kurt Wallander, Mankell's iconic character who has inspired numerous TV series. Retail info here.
- Stieg Larsson, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
- The book that brought Nordic Noir to the forefront in America. You just can't beat Lisbeth Salander. Retail info here.
- Camilla Läckberg, THE ICE PRINCESS
- Some might argue with Lackberg's role as a genre-defining author, but I have seen her influence throughout newer Scandinavian crime writing. The first in a fantastic series with a heart-warming humanity at its core. Retail info here.
- Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, ROSEANNA
- The godparents of Nordic Noir. The duo's ROSEANNA is a definitive police procedural which has inspired countless Scandinavian crime writers. Retail info here.
Seasoned Readers: Start Here
Fans of Nordic Noir - I'm thrilled to meet you! This subgenre is so exciting because it's always evolving, with new talent cropping up every day. You already know you love this genre, so you're ready to continue exploring Scandinavia's rising stars and authors to watch. Your reading list here:
- Erik Axl Sund, THE CROW GIRL
- Tied for my favorite book of all time (with Nesbø's THE SNOWMAN). Originally a Swedish trilogy, now releasing June 2016 as a single book. An epic story of violence, abuse, mental illness, and redemption. Retail info here.
- Vidar Sundstøl, THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING
- Ancient Norwegian folklore meets modern investigation in this brilliant and compelling blend of past and present. Sundstøl's standalone is an absolute must-read for fans of the genre. Retail info here.
- Sara Blaedel, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS
- Denmark's Queen of Crime Fiction is growing in popularity in the US. Though not the first in her series, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is a gripping introduction to Blaedel's detail-oriented, investigation-heavy style of crime writing. Retail info here.
- Agnes Ravatn, THE BIRD TRIBUNAL
- A lyrical, haunting Nordic twist on a domestic thriller. You won't read another piece of Scandinavian crime like this one. Retail info here.
- Ragnar Jonasson, SNOWBLIND
- Ragnar's Dark Iceland series is taking the world by storm. Optioned for a TV show, this series is deeply influenced by classic mystery writing, and introduces readers to Icelandic crime fiction. Retail info here.
- Thomas Enger, BURNED
- BURNED is Book 1 in Enger's series featuring journalist Henning Juul; my favorite book in the series is Book 2, PIERCED. I do recommend reading these in order. Retail info here.
This fall is going to be a big one for new Scandinavian crime fiction. If you read my Fall 2017 Nordic Noir Reading List, you'll already know that one of the books I'm recommending is ORDEAL by Jorn Lier Horst, a brilliant police procedural with a big heart. ORDEAL is without a doubt my favorite Jorn Lier Horst book I've read thus far—its complex plotting and endearing characters make for a compelling and engaging read. The king of the Nordic Noir procedural, Jorn Lier Horst has crafted an impeccable slow-burn crime novel in ORDEAL.
Scandinavian crime fiction readers, listen up: THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING by Vidar Sundstøl is the must-read you haven't heard of yet. One of the most fresh and original takes on the Nordic Noir genre I've read in ages, Sundstøl's exceptional standalone crime novel weaves together ancient folklore and a modern investigation to brilliant effect. Atmospheric and laced with menace, the story's small-town setting is a character unto itself, while the story's human characters are equally complex and engaging. THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING is masterfully written, intricately plotted, and wholly immersive; in short, it's a must-read for Nordic Noir fans.
Ragnar Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series is perfect reading material for fans of classic mysteries, and the newest series installment, RUPTURE, is no exception. RUPTURE is a layered, immersive story weaving together three mysteries: a cold case, a missing child, and a hit-and-run accident. The threads of this mystery come together slowly but surely, drawing the reader deeper into its chilling core.
After reading Book 1 in Enger's series (BURNED) back in November, I’ve had such a hard time letting go of its storyline—I’ve been left wondering what on earth will happen to its endearing, melancholic protagonist. I finally decided I just had to find out. Well, I’m happy to report that PIERCED didn’t just fulfill my expectations—it wholly exceeded them.
CLOSED FOR WINTER was exactly the kind of read I hoped it would be. When I picked up this book, I was in a bit of a reading slump, looking for a slow-burning Scandinavian crime novel to pull me out of it. This book absolutely did the trick! CLOSED FOR WINTER is detailed and immersive, making great use of the author’s personal experience to craft a true-to-life and methodical police procedural.
Ragnar Jonasson’s BLACKOUT is arguably the perfect crime novel. I have loved the previous books in Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series, but BLACKOUT took my obsession to a new level. This story perfectly balances murder mystery with character development and present-day plotlines with flashbacks, and delivers a read that’s emotional, intriguing, and impossible to put down.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: one of my favorite moments as a reader is when you pick up a book by an author who is totally new to you, and you feel instantly at home in its world. I read BURNED on my flight from Iceland back to New York, and was completely absorbed in this fast-paced read.
From the moment I read its jacket copy, I knew THE ICE BENEATH HER would be a new favorite for me. Let me preface my whole review by saying, it's a must-read for fans of Nordic Noir. If you love Camilla Läckberg, Sara Blaedel, and Jo Nesbø, you will simply devour THE ICE BENEATH HER.
Today I'm so excited to share a CBTB first: my first-ever blog tour! I've been waiting for just the right book to participate in a blog tour, and I most certainly found it with THE BIRD TRIBUNAL. This lyrical, haunting Norwegian crime novel is unlike anything I've read before, and completely wrapped me up in its trance-like atmosphere.
MIDWINTER BLOOD is an atmospheric, brooding piece of Scandinavian crime fiction with a contemplative bent—an excellent choice for your fall reading list.