When it comes to mysteries, the library has lots of choices. There are fast-paced, detective thrillers, and cozy mysteries featuring plenty of mischief in quaint English villages. But there’s also a darker genre, full of intrigue, icy Scandinavian nights, and hardworking police detectives grappling with morally complex crimes. Called Nordic noir, novels in this genre are darker and bleaker than most mystery genres. They’re usually told from the point-of-view of police or detectives. The language is also more straight-forward; Nordic noir avoids metaphors and gets right to the heart of the action.
If you’re a mystery lover, you may already be a Nordic noir fan. Swedish author Henning Mankell’s world famous detective Wallander has been featured in many mysteries, along with a television adaptation of the Wallander novels, both in Sweden and the UK. Fellow Swedish author Stieg Larsson created the Millennium trilogy, featuring complex anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander, the main character in the three novels, along with the movies in Swedish and English, that began with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Nordic noir may not be as cozy as other popular mysteries, but it does evoke the sense of cold, dark evenings and changeable weather of Northern Europe. It’s the perfect genre to snuggle up with a blanket and read on a chilly evening. Travel to Iceland with the gritty crime novels of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Arnaldur Indriðason, or follow the tough detective who investigates the dark underbelly of Oslo in Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series. Or check out The Man Who Died, a blend of crime fiction and dark comedy by Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen.
After you’re finished reading, catch up with your favorite Nordic noir characters on film. Wallander is a hit series with Swedish and English versions. The same is true of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. The Killing is a popular Danish series that has a successful run on American television. And Michael Fassbender portrays Harry Hole in the film version of Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. These Nordic noir thrillers will have you excited to stay home on a dark, cold night.