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Scandinavian Murder Mysteries

Updated: January 25, 2016

Stieg Larsson may be Scandinavia's best known writer of suspense and murder. However, there are other writers who use this region as a backdrop for complex murder mysteries and thrillers.

Ekman, Kerstin, 1933-
On Midsummer's Eve 1974, Anne Raft and her daughter Mia hike to a commune in the wilds outside the remote hamlet of Blackwater. At the commune, she finds two dead bodies and gets a glimpse of the man who she thinks has killed them. In 1992, she sees the face again and it belongs to the man dating her daughter.

Call Number: M
Inspector Van Veeteren is returning from vacation when a brutal axe murder is committed in the neighboring town--the second of its kind in two months. Van Veeteren works with the local police in order to judge if this is mere coincidence or the start of a serial-killing spree. The book's title refers to a point in an investigation when enough evidence has been gathered to solve the case.

Tursten, Helene, 1954-
Call Number: M
In Detective Inspector Huss, Irene Huss is a forty-something mother of twins, judo expert and detective with the city homicide department who is pulled into an investigation that involves multiple murders, bombings, and a conspiracy involving an unholy combination of Sweden's most powerful businessmen, vicious gangs of drug dealers, and neo-Nazi skinheads. Meanwhile, Irene is unsettled by her daughter's creepy boyfriend.

Fossum, Karin, 1954-
Call Number: M
Karin Fossum, "Norway's Queen of Crime," presents Konrad Sejer, a tough cop and sad widower, who relentlessly pursues the murderer of a young and popular local athlete in a small village where everyone seems to know everyone else's business, yet no one has a clue regarding the crime. As he finds out more about the victim's life, the plot twists and turns, revealing surprise after surprise that shows the darker side of the town and of human nature.

Larsson, Stieg, 1954-2004.

Perhaps the most famous of the current crop of Scandinavian psychological thrillers, this is the first of three novels pairing misunderstood genius Lisbeth Salander and determined journalist Mikael Blomkvist as they encounter violence and corruption to get to the bottom of a long-ago disappearance.

Call Number: M
In Iceland, the land of fire and ice, Inspector Erlendur investigates a cold case that blows hot when he begins to uncover secrets that have been hidden by many people for many years. As he follows a fascinating trail of unusual forensic evidence (DNA evidence takes on a whole new meaning in Iceland, one of the most genetically homogenous populations on the planet.), Erlendur also confronts his own past and a complicated relationship with his daughter.

Mankell, Henning, 1948-
Call Number: M
Wallander is a middle-aged chief inspector with a load of personal baggage: his wife has left him, his father suffers from dementia, and he is estranged from his daughter. In One Step Behind, Wallander investigates a triple murder committed in the woods on Midsummer's Eve. Then, one of Wallander's colleagues is found murdered, leading Wallander to wonder if the crimes are connected.

Renegade cop Harry Holt lives on the seamy side of society and would have been fired long ago but for his excellent policing skills. Redbreast is set during former President Clinton's visit to Norway, where against his will, Harry is pulled into security duty. An incident during the visit leads him to an investigation of neo-Nazi activity in Norway, which itself leads back to a crime that has its roots in the battlefields of the Eastern Front during World War II.

Call Number: M Ed.a
Sjowell and Wahloo were the progenitors of the modern Swedish crime novel. Their ten police procedurals are intended to be a three-hundred chapter chronicle of the breakdown of order in Swedish society. The protagonist, Martin Beck, is a harried detective with an unhappy home life who is obsessive about his cases. In the first Beck book, Roseanna, a young woman's body is pulled from a lake. With no clues, Beck begins an investigation to discover the identity of the victim as well as the murderer.

Call Number: M
Erik Winter is the youngest chief inspector in Sweden and is his own man: he wears expensive suits, cooks gourmet meals, and loves jazz. Sun and Shadow begins with a bloody double murder that might just have roots in the police department. As Winter closes in on the killer, the killer stalks the chief inspector's wife.

Bodelsen, Anders, 1937-
Call Number: M
When a bored bank clerk correctly guesses that the bank is about to be robbed, he comes up with an ingenious plan to commit the perfect crime. He succeeds, but life afterwards quickly gets very messy because the only person who knows his secret is the robber, who comes out of jail with a detailed plan of vengeance.