It is a well-known fact that only 5 % of books published in the UK are in translation which makes the overwhelming success of Scandinavian Crime Fiction, or Nordic Noir fiction even more impressive. Cult TV programmes like The Killing and Borgen have also contributed to the public interest in the mysterious north.
The seemingly peaceful Scandinavian countries provide an ideal location for dastardly deeds with their long, dark nights and harsh climates, which appear both exotic and dangerous to British readers. The detectives in these novels seem far from content with living in some of the best welfare states in the world and are often melancholic alcoholics, just as flawed as those they are trying to bring to justice. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular authors from mainland Scandinavia.
Peter Høeg was one of the first authors to bring Scandinavian Crime Fiction to the masses with the release of Smilla’s Sense Of Snow in 1992. Smilla, who is the daughter of a Greenlandic Inuit and a Danish doctor is one of the world’s leading experts on ice and snow. When she moves to Copenhagen her only friend in an otherwise cold society is a little boy called Isaiah, a fellow Greenlander far from home. Tragically, he dies after falling from an icy roof in what the police deem to be an accident, but Smilla suspects is a more sinister occurrence judging by his tracks in the snow. In an investigation that takes her from the back streets of Copenhagen to a remote island off the Greenlandic coast, this is a thrilling read.
Jo Nesbø is the man behind the bestselling Harry Hole series and although once dubbed “The next Stieg Larsson,” he seems set to outperform his predecessor selling one book in the series every 23 seconds! The latest book to be published in the UK is actually the first in the series and whisks Harry Hole away from the mean streets of Oslo to sunny Australia as he investigates the murder of a Norwegian TV star. The more Harry uncovers about a string of unsolved murders, the more he arouses the attention of a possible serial killer. The narrative is incredibly fast paced and often violent, leaving readers dying to find out what poor Inspector Hole will have to endure next.
Henning Mankell is the award-winning creator of the Wallander series which was made into a British TV series starring Kenneth Brannagh. Although detective Kurt Wallander might not have much luck in his personal life, he is brilliant at following hunches and has a great desire for uncovering the truth. The first book in the series, Faceless Killers, sees Wallander investigating the extremely brutal murder of an elderly couple on a local farm. The last thing the old woman said before she died was “foreign” which places the new flood of immigration workers in the line of suspicion and more than that, danger. Wallander has to act before people take matters into their own hands. The character of Wallander himself proves to be the biggest mystery.