If there’s one genre Scandinavia is known for, it’s crime fiction. Popularly known as Nordic Noir, Scandinavian Crime Fiction has started to fill up the shelves of book stores around the world. Curl up with one of these Scandinavian classics, carefully selected and reviewed for you by DIS Librarian, Kalle Weis-Fogh.
Hear Kalle’s take on why he chose these 5 Scandinavian Crime Fiction picks:
Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö (1965): Martin Beck series
Swedish authors, Sjöwall and Wahlöö, wrote the ten books in this series from 1965 to 1975. The series tells the story of Detective Martin Beck who works as a regular police officer, but in a Swedish society where things are not always as they seem. This series is a perfect example of classic Crime Fiction, but with a strong social realist element. A style many have since copied, but never done as well as Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.
Stieg Larsson (2007): Millennium trilogy
The iconic Swedish novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starts off this trilogy and is undeniably the most famous Scandinavian Crime Fiction book of all time. These three books about Lisbeth Salander and her battle for justice might not be known for their well written prose, but are all genuinely exciting page-turners.
Dan Turèll (1981): The Murder Series
Turèll is more known for his beat poems, jazz records, and novels, but his 12 books about an unnamed reporter/detective solving crimes in the Vesterbro area of Copenhagen, are important works in the canon of Danish Crime Fiction. These books combine a Copenhagen setting, with classic Noir fixtures from American writers like Raymond Chandler. Don’t expect action-packed stories, but prepare for some classic Noir tropes.
Arnaldur Indridason (1997): Detective Erlendur Series
Indridason’s books are very much a member of the contemporary Scandinavian Crime Fiction scene. However, where some books in the genre tend to rack up the gore and the body count, Indridason’s books are more thoughtful and melancholic. The characters he portrays are multidimensional and his descriptions of Reykavik and Iceland help set the tone for tension-filled novels.
Liza Marklund (1999): The Annika Bengtzon Series
Liza Marklunds’ books on the reporter Annika Bengtzon, combines classic Crime Fiction themes (a reporter solving crimes) with an emphasis on personal aspects of the protagonists life. Nothing new in this. In Marklunds books though, the writing is crisp, the plots are detailed, and the character depictions rarely stray into soap opera or heavy handed clichés. Marklund and her main character offer the best of both worlds – a fictional setting which feels rich and relatable.
Kalle has a Masters in Library and Information Science from the Royal School of Information Science in Copenhagen. He lives in the Frederikberg area of Copenhagen with his family and many books and records. His interest in literature focuses on Crime Fiction, US/UK & Scandinavian writers and books for Children. He also enjoys the occasional cup of coffee and/or glass of wine.