Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nordic Noir

Maureen Corrigan, the book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, recently opined that "Not since the arrival of Ikea on these shores has Sweden made such an inroad into the American home and imagination." She was speaking, of course, about the cultural phenomenon of Stieg Larsson’s "Millennium" trilogy. She also points out Larsson is just the "tippy-top of a Nordic literary iceberg."

Scandinavian crime fiction translated into English has experienced a commercial and critical explosion in recent years and good reads hardly stop with Larsson. Here are some other crime writers who hail from Europe's frozen north.

Karin Alvtegen

Alvtegen writes highly acclaimed psychological thrillers set in Sweden. Her books Missing and Betrayal are both shelved in the Fiction area.

K.O. Dahl

Dahl hails from Norway and writes a series of police procedurals featuring Inspector Frank Frolich of the Oslo P.D. The first in the series is The Fourth Man.

Kerstin Ekman

Ekman writes rich, atmospheric thrillers set in modern Sweden. Her stand alone titles Under the Snow and Blackwater were both highly acclaimed.

Kjell Eriksson

Eriksson writes about the life and work of police inspector Anne Lindell and the Uppsala Violent Crimes Division. The Princess of Burundi is the first in the series.

Karin Fossum

Fossum, known as the Norwegian “Queen of Crime,” writes a series about Inspector Sejer, a brilliant detective often dispatched to remote locales. Start with the award-winning Don’t Look Back.

Anne Holt

Holt is a Norwegian lawyer/author whose series features a husband & wife team of a criminal profiler and detective inspector. Start with What is Mine.

Arnaldur Indriðason

Indriðason is Iceland’s most popular author. His series follows Erlendur Sveinsson as he investigates crimes that often mirror the social and political issues of the country. Start the series with Jar City.

Henning Mankell

Mankell’s protagonist, Kurt Wallander, investigates crimes that often reflect the societal ills and issues of modern Sweden. The first in the worldwide best selling series is Faceless Killers.

Jo Nesbø

Nesbø writes about the brilliant but unconventional Harry Hole, a detective with the Oslo P.D. More than a million of Nesbø’s books have been sold in his native Norway. Start the series with The Redbreast.

Håkan Nesser

Nesser is a Swedish author who writes about the idiosyncratic and sardonic Inspector Van Veeteren. The first in this compelling and darkly comic series series is Mind’s Eye.

Helene Tursten

Tursten writes about Inspector Irene Huss as she balances the obligations of family with the gritty work of Goteborg, Sweden’s Violent Crimes Unit. First in the series is Detective Inspector Huss.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

As Sarah Weinman recently pointed on The Daily Beast, Sjöwall and Wahlöö had an undeniable influence on Stieg Larsson. Beginning in 1965, they penned ten mysteries featuring the world-weary detective Martin Beck that dealt bluntly with the social ills of Sweden and the world. Start with the Edgar-winning The Laughing Policeman.