Crime Scene: Scandinavia Suggestions

Send your book question to What Do I Read Next? our new personalized advice column for book lovers. Let the Ravenous Readers—our readers' advisory professionals—send some reading love your way!

We'll personally respond to each question we receive. And, every Friday, we'll pick one question we've had more than the usual amount of fun answering and publish it right here on the What Do I Read Next? blog. (If your question becomes a blog post, your name will not be used.)

I am always looking for good crime writers, especially those with a Scandinavian setting. For me, Henning Mankell is the gold standard, and Jo Nesbo is a close second. Any other recommendations would be most appreciated.


Northern Exposure

Dear Northern,

A lot of Scandinavian mystery fans would agree with you. Mankell, who passed away in 2015, set the bar for Scandinavian crime-writing. His protagonist, police inspector Kurt Wallander, solved shocking, intricate murders, and the melancholy Swede remains an icon.

For similar reading experiences, try these authors, who also capture the intricate plotting, fully-developed characters and bleak Nordic settings often associated with Mankell’s crime novels.

The award-winning titles of Arnaldur Indriðason, featuring Reykjavik-based detective Erlendur Sveinsson, do not shy away from controversial or gritty themes. The inhospitable Icelandic landscape takes a central role as do themes of alienation and loss. Try Into Oblivion

The star of Helene Tursten’s police procedurals is Inspector Irene Huss, a 40-something judo expert and earnest policewoman who combines marriage and motherhood with detection. Tursten’s focus is on social change, and she has spotlighted immigration, racism, neo-Nazism and gangs among her themes. Her Who Watcheth is a book you might enjoy.

Often called the Norwegian Queen of Crime, Karin Fossums titles feature Inspector Konrad Sejer, a tough, no-nonsense detective.These police procedurals are skillfully plotted, with well-drawn characters and plausible scenarios. One of the earliest Scandinavian crime writers to be translated into English, Fossum's Inspector Sejer has been compared to classic detectives such as Morse and Adam Dalgliesh. Try Hell Fire

A great way to test drive new authors is to read some short stories, like A Darker Shade of Sweden: Original Stories By Sweden's Greatest Crime Writers.

And, for a great article about Scandinavian mysteries and why we love them, take a look at A Cold Night's Death: The Allure of Scandinavian Crime Fiction by Jeremy Megraw, Photograph Librarian, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center.


PL from the Ravenous Readers

Looking for books in all the wrong places? Fill out the email form here to get expert, personalized reading suggestions from the Ravenous Readers.

Any other ideas for Northern?? Let us know in the comments below!