Last month I discussed the incredible story of Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author who wrote the Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). It is no exaggeration to say that they have become a publishing sensation, selling 35 million copies worldwide. Those of you who have read and enjoyed the trilogy might be pining for some more Nordic noir, and those who are waiting to read them might want to try something else in the meantime. Luckily, there is no shortage of atmospheric Scandinavian mysteries, and I have compiled a list of some terrific authors who may inspire you to put on a big pot of coffee and cool off with an icy mystery.
Henning Mankell--One of the most successful Swedish authors, he is best known for the highly-regarded Kurt Wallander series. Wallander, also called the Swedish Morse, is a middle-aged police inspector with a load of personal problems and a gloomy outlook on society, but the books are justifably popular.
Karin Fossum holds the unofficial title of Norway's Queen of Crime. Her detective is Konrad Sejer who could hold his own in a personal baggage competition with Kurt Wallander. Nonetheless, she writes clever puzzles and her characterizations are spot on. Her newest book, Broken, will be out in August.
Arnaldur Indridason, the pride of Iceland's crime-writing community, has written several very well-received mysteries featuring his detective Erlandur Sveinnson. This tortured character is a fair match for both Wallander and Sejer in the personal baggage competition, but he is redeemed by his great compassion for the crime victims.
Jo Nesbo is a prize-winning and very popular Norwegian mystery writer, but his books are just being published in the U.S. His troubled alcoholic protagonist is policeman Harry Hole who is based partly on himself. Nesbo is also the author of Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, a children's book.
Ake Edwardson is another popular Swedish mystery writer, but not particularly well known here. His character Erik Winter is a complicated, but not completely joyless, individual. He investigates crimes in gloomy Gothenburg "with a shrewd mind and a heavy heart" while he deals with his more than fair share of personal difficulties.
Karin Alvtegen is the niece of Pippi Longstocking's creator Astrid Lindgren, but their writings are vastly different. The Swedish Alvtegen does not have a series, but writes stand alone psychological mysteries. The Investigating Mysteries book discussion will be reading her book Missing in August.