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A Reader of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Northern Lights in Sweden
Northern Lights in Sweden with the rarely seen blue flames, courtesy of Wikipedia, picture by Varjisakka.

What Is Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Scandinavian Crime Fiction is a literary art form that easily falls under the category of Crime Fiction or even “Mystery”. The main difference between the mystery authors of Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark is that they they write in their own perspective language. Otherwise the structure of the book or novel is very similar to those of the English-speaking world. Lately, due in part to the mountainous success of Stieg Larsson from Sweden, these writers have received international acclaim with many of them now supporting English-language translations that can be found all across America, Canada and other places in the English-speaking world.

Why Are Scandinavian Crime Fiction Writers So Popular?

There are many possible reasons why these books are so popular, but a quick glimpse at an Economist article suggests that setting might be paramount to the success of this genre. What better place to set a murder mystery than the snowy hinterlands of Iceland, Norway or Sweden. Murder is a cold business, and a chilly wintry setting just adds to the eerie feeling that accompanies this type of story. Other factors that might aid in their popularity are the anti-hero qualities often applied to the detective and the subtle criticism of the socialist-welfare state that often underlies much of Scandinavian crime fiction.

My Reading Experience

This fall I have read two of the many novels available and have been most impressed with these literary efforts coming out of northern Europe. The two books are The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo and the Sun Storm by Asa Larsson, who is not related to the more famous Stieg Larsson.

Larsson’s Wonderful Wintry Setting

The Sun Storm takes place in the snowy Lapp land of northern Sweden. The main character is a woman detective who returns to her northern village to investigate a brutal murder that has taken place in an evangelical church. The story that unfolds from this simple is quite remarkable, especially since both the main protagonist and author are female.

Norway’s Nazi Sympathizers

The Redbreast, which is written by the popular male author and rock and roller, Jo Nesbo, delves into the lives of those young Norwegian men who volunteered to fight with Germany after Norway was occupied by the Nazi regime during WWII. Though their numbers were small, their story was quite dramatic. Nesbo successfully uses this little known bit of history to create a fascinating backdrop for an entertaining modern story set in the 21st century.

Other Authors

Other writers, who have gained much attention, include Jussi Adler-Olsen, Arnuldar Indridason, Camilla Lackberg, Karin Fossum and Leif G.W. Persson and Henning Mankell. True to the nature of Scandinavian society the women have been just as successful with the genre as the men.

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4 Responses to “A Reader of Scandinavian Crime Fiction”

  1. I haven’t dabbled in Scandinavian crime lit yet but I’m currently reading a crime novel from Poland. It’s proving to be a real page turner: Entanglement by Zygmunt Miloszewski.

  2. I haven’t read anything out of Poland,…. hope you enjoy the book. Between reading the two Scandinavian authors I picked up a copy of Hold the Enlightenment by Tim Cahill. I thoroughly enjoyed his first person accounts of his travel adventures around the world.

  3. I have about 100 pages left of the Polish book and I can’t wait to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together at the end. I’ll look into some of the Scandinavian ones you posted.

  4. I tilted myself that will where I’d been leaning just a bit away
    from the part, enough to kick advertising as
    hard as I could possibly. She gazed beautiful in the daylight, however at
    night I do believe she a whole lot more so. How this girl could keep this cutter spunk in her backpack.


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