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.
Detective Carl Mørck and his eccentric group of police officers in Copenhagen’s Department Q specialize in cold cases. In this installment of a popular series, the piece of evidence that is delivered to Mørck’s desk is a message in a bottle, written in the blood of a kidnap victim years earlier. It turns out that the kidnapper/killer, who targets families belonging to fringe religions, is still very much alive and active.
This author’s series, set in Oslo, centers on police detective Hanne Wilhelmsen. In this episode, as Hanne deals with her longtime live-in partner’s cancer diagnosis, she is also investigating the murder of the wife of Oslo’s chief public prosecutor, decapitated with her own antique sword. The prosecutor claims he was held at gunpoint while a local businessman, who blamed the prosecutor’s office for his bankruptcy, killed his wife. But several witnesses say that the businessman committed suicide by jumping off a bridge several days before the murder.
Hailed as Denmark’s “queen of crime”, Blædel has written a series of books about police detective Louise Rick. In this one, Louise has just taken a new job as head of the Special Search Unit in Copenhagen when she’s sent to the rural area near where she grew up to identify a body found in the woods. The dead woman proves to be one of a pair of twins, brain-damaged at birth, both of whom had supposedly died over 30 years earlier, according to the agency that housed them.
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.
This Swedish author’s work is distinctive for its setting in the university city of Uppsala. The central character, detective Ann Lindell, is dealing with several puzzling cases in this series installment. A local politician who disappeared twelve years earlier after walking out of a meeting is discovered living happily in Bangalore, India, by an Uppsala resident who happens to run into him there. Back home, the politician’s abandoned wife is in the hospital, having been hit by a truck. And Ann is also trying to trace a woman’s severed foot that washed ashore outside a nearby village
This novel and several others by the author are set on the island of Gotland, off the coast of Sweden. In the island’s principal town of Visby, the naked, battered body of art dealer Egon Wallin is found hanging from the historic “Gate of Love”. Police inspector Anders Knutas discovers that Wallin was about to leave his wife, who becomes a prime suspect, but when a painting is stolen from Wallin’s gallery, it appears that his professional involvements may have led to his death.
Oslo Police Detective Harry Hole thinks he's finally hit bottom: dumped by his wife, his job in jeopardy, and his only escape the blackout drinking that nearly killed him. Then one morning he wakes up from a bender, drenched in blood, with no memory of the night before. When he learns someone he had reason to kill has been stabbed to death, Harry suddenly knows he's still got a whole lot further to fall.
Norwegian author Dahl’s American publisher likes to call him “the godfather of Nordic Noir”. This book was actually the first in his Oslo Detectives series featuring cops Gunnarstranda and Frølich, though it was not translated into English until after several of the others. The stabbing death of pretty software saleswoman Reidun Rosendal is the crime under investigation, and the police soon discover that she had an elderly and voyeuristic neighbor who is sure that the killer was a ponytailed man who visited her apartment. But when both the neighbor and the man he accused also meet violent ends, Gunnarstranda and Frølich turn their attention to her co-workers.
One of the more eccentric police detectives in Scandinavian crime fiction is Evert Bäckström of Sweden’s National Crime Unit. His hard drinking and unpleasant personality mask a keen intellect and a knack for solving difficult cases. This particular assignment involves the rape and murder of police cadet Linda Wallin in the town of Växjö. Bäckström is thrilled to be put in charge of the case, because it will give him a chance to demonstrate the incompetence of the local police, but the town becomes increasingly apprehensive as the big city experts find it harder to wrap things up than they'd expected.
This author’s series featuring police detective Patrik Hedström takes place in the small Swedish coastal town of Fjällbacka. In this book, Patrik is investigating the murder of the town’s finance director, Mats Sverin, a man who was well-liked but very private. Could his death be connected to the fact that he spent his last night with his long-ago first love, recently returned to town with her five-year-old son?
Like several other Scandinavian crime series, this one has two authors; in this case they are sister and brother. The central character is Konrad Simonsen, detective chief superintendent of the Copenhagen police. In this book, Simonsen has a particularly horrific crime to solve. A man drops from a canal bridge onto a tour boat filled mostly with children and stabs the captain, the tour guide, and two other adults to death; the only other adult passenger jumps overboard and drowns, while the killer swims to safety. With no adults on board, the tour boat drifts until it is rammed by a night ferry, killing most of the children. When it turns out that one of the dead adults was an officer in Simonsen’s department who was supposedly on vacation, finding the killer becomes even more urgent.
Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of married couple Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril, both of whom have also written numerous books separately under their own names. Their Swedish publisher recently announced that “Lars Kepler” sold more books in Sweden than any other author in any genre during the decade of the 2010s. Most of their books, including this one, feature police inspector Joona Linna, head of the National Operations Department in Stockholm. When Mikael, a young man who was presumed to be a victim of notorious captured serial killer Jurek Walter, escapes from captivity and describes the kidnapper he calls “the sandman”, Linna realizes that Walter has an accomplice who is still on the loose and under his control. He sends a young police detective undercover into Walter’s psychiatric unit, hoping to learn the identity of “the sandman” and rescue Mikael’s sister, who’s still being held prisoner.
This is the author’s fifth book featuring Icelandic attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir. It begins with Thóra being hired by heinous pedophile Jósteinn Karlsson to investigate the case of a young man with Down syndrome named Jakob, who is Jósteinn’s fellow inmate at a psychiatric facility. Jakob was convicted of setting a fire eighteen months earlier at his group home that killed five people, but Thóra soon agrees that Jakob’s guilt is definitely open to question. She is also troubled by Jósteinn’s reasons for involving her in the case; he claims his only motive is helping out a friend, but Thóra senses that something more complicated and sinister is going on.
Rebecka Martinsson, the heroine of this Swedish author’s novels, is a tax attorney, as was Larsson herself, before she turned to writing. In this fourth book in the series, Rebecka has moved to her grandparents’ town in northern Sweden and works as a district prosecutor. When Wilma, a teenager, is found dead in an ice hole in a local river, the initial verdict is accidental drowning. Rebecka has a dream in which Wilma tells her she did not die in the river, and she convinces the local police to help her investigate. The case turns out to involve the town’s activities during World War II when Nazi business was welcomed by some elements in neutral Sweden, and certain locals got rich trucking supplies to the Eastern Front in nearby Finland.