Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Many writers, much joy! Do you know them all?

Scandinavian crime fiction: Big, dynamic, growing.

The Scandinavian crime fiction literature has long traditions in each of the Scandinavian countries, but has for a long time been comparatively small internationally, with relatively few books translated into the major languages of the world. With Sjöwall and Wahlöö and their fabulous 10 crime novels that started to change (see also our videos on the history of Scandinavian crime fiction).

Following their success, writers like Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indridason, Peter Hoeg and Hakan Nesser became well known internationally.

Now, with the rise of the newest generation of Scandinavian crime fiction writers, with "super-stars" like Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbø, Liza Marklund, Asa Larsson, Karin Alvtegen, Johan Theorin, Roslund Hellstrom, Camilla Läckberg and others, Scandinavian crime fiction and Swedish crime fiction receive lots of attention worldwide.

The authors whose pictures appear on the top of the page are but a few of the large and growing number of somewhat "less known" but very talented Scandinavian crime fiction writers that have been published in English so far.

Even though the number is increasing, only a small fraction of the crime fiction literatures of the Scandinavian countries has been translated and published. Especially in the English speaking nations the proportion is very small. We hope the internet and new publishing models will change that. As it is, English readers miss out on a lot of great entertainment!

More on Scandinavian crime fiction books and writers:

See also our section on Scandinavian movies - crime fiction and others!

Broad coverage of the Scandinavian crime literature!

Our goal is to have the most complete coverage on Scandinavian crime fiction and authors found on the internet. We have almost achieved this for Icelandic, Swedish and Norwegian crime fiction books. However, we still have more work to do relative to Finnish and Danish crime fiction.

The goal of this site is to achieve thorough coverage of the Scandinavian crime book scene during 2010, to provide high quality reviews, and feature compelling author pages covering the key Scandinavian crime authors. We also bring bibliographic information.

In addition we publish news about Scandinavian crime fiction on the news-page and in our book blog. We will publish more overview articles as well, discussing new trends and authors, and provide links to good materials. We will soon provide RSS-feed as well, to make easier for readers to get updated.

We also welcome ideas, reviews and feedback from our readers. So go ahead and send us your feedback or review - see our contact page!


Betrayal, by Karin Alvtegen

Betrayal is page-turner. Karin Alvtegen, whose prize-winning novel Missing won prestigious awards when it was published in 2000, has followed up with a new story full of suspense. Betrayal was nominated Best Nordic Crime Novel in 2004 and has become a bestseller across Europe. Alvtegen’s writing reminds me of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell. Long before anything happens, you just know something will happen and that it will be ugly. But you don't know when and to whom it will happen.

Betrayal, by Karin Alvtegen

Betrayal is about ordinary people living ordinary lives but surrounded by betrayal, some known to them, some denied, some unknown. It is a powerful tale about how those betrayals transform lives and relationships. It plays on primary human fears, especially those of being abandoned and rejected.

Eva, a high-powered executive accustomed to success is married to Henrik, a stay-at-home writer and the father of their young son, Axel. One day Henrik tells her that he wants to end their fifteen-year relationship. He doesn’t ‘have fun anymore’. Gradually a betrayal is revealed. Eva’s world spins out of control.

Jonas, a 25 year old postman, keeps vigil at the bedside of his older girlfriend, Anna, in another part of Stockholm. She has been in a coma for two-and-half years, seemingly following a swimming accident, which in reality is yet another betrayal. Jonas is an obsessive-compulsive loner with a family history also marked by betrayal.

Then Jonas by accident meets the distraught Eva in a bar. Thus the two separate stories converge; betrayals meet betrayals in a new betrayal. Alvtegen’s plot revolves around individuals hurt and seeking remedy and revenge. Out of betrayals emerge obsessions. These too have a place in Betrayal.

 

In Betrayal, Alvtegen gets inside the minds of her characters and sometimes even describes the same scene from different perspectives. This technique helps build suspense as it allows the action to unfold gradually. The reading experience is interesting. The reader slowly pieces together the story by collecting impressions, information and important clues, coming at the main narrative from different angles.

Betrayal's plot is powerful, yet Karin Alvtegen’s novel is as much about individual histories and relationships as it is about what actually happens. The multiple betrayals give rise to dynamics that, as a reader, you just know must end in disaster. How, when, for whom, however, are unknowns. There is little violence, but still the suspense is continuously building. Action drives action. There are no punishments and no rewards, there are only consequences.

Praise for Betrayal:

"Karin Alvtegen has once again shown that combining complicated emotions like guilt, regret and deceit with an intelligent and breathtaking plot, is an art she is the master of. In fact, she is telling about an event that occurs to many people every day, but Karin Alvtegen accentuates it and thereby she gives the reader another novel packed with suspense."
Nerikes Allehanda

Order Betrayal by Karin Alvtegen from amazon UK.

Unseen, by Mari Jungstedt

Unseen takes place in Sweden.Unseen, by Mari JungstedtThe tiny island of Gotland, Sweden, is gearing up for their Midsummer celebrations and an influx of tourists. When Helena Hillerstrom’s body, and that of her loyal dog, is found covered in ax wounds on the beach, it looks like her jealous boyfriend, who caught an old friend dancing with Helena before her death, is to blame. Then a second victim is found in a local cemetery after a night out with girlfriends.

Unseen is the first novel by Mari Jungstedt. She has worked as a radio and television journalist for fourteen years.She lives in Stockholm with her husband and two children. Unseen is the first in a series set on the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden. The translation of Unseen is by Tiina Nunnally, who - as usual - has done an excellent job.

Inspector Knutas, the main character in Mari Jungstedt's books, must face up to the horrifying prospect that there is a serial killer loose on the island. Aided by investigative journalist Johan Berg (another of Jungstedt's main characters), he pieces together the tragic history that unites the two victims, and alarmingly points to more murders to come. The killer remains unknown, moving freely, unseen, on the island. All that is clear is that the two victims, and then three, are just the beginning, unless Knutas and Berg find the killer before he strikes again.

Unseen is a good, well crafted crime book. It has a strong combination of pacing, suspense, and character study. As a debut book Unseen shows a lot of promise. The book is good, not excellent. But still well worth reading. And Inspector Knutaas is an interesting character.

Praise for Unseen:

“Unseen is the Swede Mari Jungstedt’s first novel, but it doesn’t feel like it. She is in total control of plot and pace, conveys chilling atmosphere and her characters are well above average for believability.”
     -- Marcel Berlins, The Times

See also Unspoken, Jungstedt's second book! Review of Unspoken here!

Order Unspoken and Unseen by Mari Jungstedt from amazon UK here!

Coq Rouge, by Jan Guillou

Jan (Oscar Sverre Lucien Henri) Guillou is one of Sweden's most famous authors. His Coq Rouge-novels, a series of books about the Swedish secret agent Carl Gustaf Gilbert Hamilton, the Scandinavian James Bond, have been translated into some 15 languages. Carl Hamilton has special training from the FBI and the US Navy. He comes from the Swedish aristocracy, but he is also a former leftist, opposed the Vietnam war in the 1960s and was a member of the Maoist Clarté group.

Coq Rouge, by Jan Guillou

In Coq Rouge, a high ranking officer in the Swedish Secret police is shot in Stockholm. The authorities are confused. Who is behind the execution?

Carl Hamilton, who has officially studied political science in California, but has in reality been trained as a Navy Seal, and a spy, is assigned the case. His is assigned the code name Coq Rouge. This is his first big case, with a trail that goes to Oslo, Beirut, Lillehammer, Israel, and Iran. This is the first book in the series about Hamilton.

Coq Rouge is a great read, with an interesting plot, and a wonderful start of the fabulous series of books about Count Hamilton. One of the best international spy series in modern time, in the same class as LeCarrè. All of the books, and this one as well, are extremely exciting, with lots of action and rapidly unfolding plots. Coq Rogue is a wonderful read.

(For some or other reason, the books in this series are hard to find in English, and a number of them are currently selling for USD 100 or more from private sellers on various internet sites.)

Also by Jan Guillou: The Knight Templar (Crusades Trilogy), (historical novels) another great series!

Order from amazon UK: Coq Rouge, The Road to Jerusalem (Crusades Trilogy), and The Knight Templar (Crusades Trilogy).


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Reviews of recent Scandinavian crime fiction books:

Jo Nesbo: The Snowman, with Detective Harry Hole

Henning Mankell: The Man from Beijing, a new global crime fiction/thriller

Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - the third and final in the Millennium series

The 10 most recent books reviewed on Scandinavian Books:

The Shadow Girls by Henning Mankell

The Drowning, by Camilla Läckberg

Operation Napoleon, by Arnaldur Indridason

The Caller, by Karin Fossum

The Howling Miller, by Arto Paasilinna

The Dwarf, by Pär Lagerkvist

The Ice Palace, by Tarjei Vesaas

The Summer Without Men, by Siri Hustvedt

Doctor Glas, by Hjalmar Soderberg

The Quarry, by Johan Theorin

Most recent Scandinavian movies on DVD reviewed:

King of Devil's Island - Stellan Skarsgård

A Somewhat Gentle Man - Stellan Skarsgård at his very best

The Killing - an excellent Danish crime fiction TV series

Arn: Templar Knight - based on the Crusades trilogy by Jan Guillou

Jar City, excellent Icelandic crime movie based on a book by Arnaldur Indridason

Troubled Water - an extraordinary Norwegian movie

Pusher Trilogy. Hard, violent Danish movies about gangsters.

As it is in Heaven. Charming Swedish movie, romantic, funny, warm.

Max Manus - about a hero in the Norwegian resistance during WWII

Flame and Citron - about the Danish resistance during WWII

Antichrist and other movies by Danish Lars von Trier

The Van Veeteren collection (Hakan Nesser)

Kurt Wallander series (Henning Mankell)

Irene Huss movies (Boxed set) Helene Tursten

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