As per your request, I decided to make a comprehensive mini-guide in order to introduce you to some Nordic Noir authors. Since it’s my favorite genre and November is coming to a rapid end, I had to oblige. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I have a penchant for Nordic Noir thrillers. What better time than during the month of November to put a short guide together so you become more familiar with the genre? And I made it just before the month ended! Hooray!
What is Nordic Noir?
As previously mentioned, Nordic Noir is a thriller sub-genre that is set in any of the Scandinavian countries. Whether in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden, they all have one thing in common: the atmospheric vibe, bleak urban settings, and dark storylines.
The main characters are usually detectives that are trying to solve some type of crime. Most of them are pretty gory and grim, so it may not be the go-to type of book for every reader.
Authors By Country
In order to get into the genre, you can get a taste of some of the authors that write those types of books. I split the following section by country, in alphabetical order.
Of course, there are a lot more authors than those I included here, but this is just to get you started. I read most of them, but there are still a few I need to get to.
Without further ado, let’s see which are some of the Nordic Noir authors to discover.
I didn’t even do it on purpose, but most of the authors I picked from Denmark are all female. Except for Soren Sveistrup, who wrote one of my favorite books in the genre ever.
She’s one of the oldest crime fiction writers on this list. She wrote the Detective Louise Rick novels I read and loved, for a total of more than a dozen books in the series. Her books are engaging and the characters are complex and flawed. A great author to get you started in the genre.
Anne Mette Hancock
I recently discovered Anne Mette Hancock thanks to Instagram. Her first novel, the Corpse Flower, was published in 2017, and the Collector just came out earlier this year.
Also based in Copenhagen, Katherine Engberg is a former choreographer and dancer. Her first book in the Korner/ Werner books, The Tenant, came out in 2020 in North America. There are four books now in the series, with the Harbor that came out earlier this year.
He is the Danish producer that is behind the TV series The Killing. His first book, The Chestnut Man, is one of my favorite Nordic Noir books, ever. And the Netflix series based on the book is also a must-see if you’re curious about Nordic Noir.
This is one country I am ashamed to say I am not that familiar with. Although two of Max Seeck’s books are sitting on my shelves, I haven’t read anything by any Finnish writer yet.
So let’s discover them together. Hopefully, by next November, I will have something to report in this department. You can hold me to it, I like a challenge.
Film producer, director, screenwriter, and now-published author, Max Seeck has an impressive resume. His detective stories have been translated into 40 languages. His latest, The Last Grudge, is coming out in 2023.
Known for her crime novels featuring policewoman Maria Kallio, Leena Lehtolainen is a Finnish author to keep an eye out for. Her novel My First murder, is the first in the series, with a total of eleven novels.
Although he has more than a half dozen books written, he is not that popular in North America. He has six standalone novels and two in the Rabbit Factor trilogy, with one that has yet to be published. His first novel, The Healer, came out in 2010.
This is a country that has a few noteworthy authors as well. Here are three of them:
Yrsa has been writing since 1998. She started off by writing children’s novels, and since 2005, crime fiction as well. She has a few standalone books and two series: the Children’s House series, and the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. I highly recommend her books if you’re new to Nordic Noir.
I read the first book by Lilja, Betrayal, earlier this year. The Reykjavik trilogy is still sitting on my e-reader, so I can’t give an opinion on those books yet. But if I was to go by Cold as Hell and Betrayal, I think they are a must-read.
Although highly praised, he is not my favorite Icelandic writer, but one that is definitely worth noting. What I like about his books is that they are short and very easy to read. They’re the perfect books to consider if you’re in a reading slump.
If you follow a few of us bookstagrammers that love Nordic Noir, then you’ve definitely heard of the following authors.
He is one of the most popular Nordic Noir writers in the world. With thrillers such as the Snowman, which was turned into a movie adaptation, you can get acquainted with Harry Hole, the relentless detective who is a complex main character.
He was the first underrated Nordic Noir author I did a post about last year. He isn’t as talked about as some of the others on this list, but do consider his three books. They depict the genre perfectly, and his writing style is easy to follow and flows beautifully.
He’s one of the many authors to come from Oslo, but his work has only started to pick up in North America in the last couple of years. He is one of the most underrated Nordic Noir writers, but one to keep in mind. He has a few thrillers under his belt and is more widely known for co-writing the Blix and Ramm series with Jorn Lier Horst.
Last but definitely not least, I end this virtual tour with Sweden. Stieg Larson is the famous Swedish writer who started my love affair with Nordic Noir. If you haven’t heard of the Millenium Trilogy yet, it’s time to read this article.
Technically, he is not the first author to claim the title for the after of Nordic Noir. That honor goes to Henning Mankell. I will do a post on his work at some point in the future, but as far as I’m concerned, Stieg Larsson is the one who gave me my first taste for Nordic Noir. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2004, so we only get three of his books. The Lizbeth Salander series was continued by David Lagerkrantz, and rumor has it the series will continue with a different writer in 2023. I’ll update you when I have solid proof.
To me, she is the Queen of Nordic Noir. I discovered her soon after Stieg Larsson, and love her Erika Falck and Patrik Hedstrom series. There are ten books in the series. She also wrote a couple of novellas, as well as Golden Cage and Silver Tears. Trapped, her newest book came out earlier this year, but I haven’t read it yet.
Popular Lars Kepler is a husband and wife duo that has eight books in the Joona Linna series. If you like more gruesome, dark crime thrillers, then their books are a must-read.
Another underrated Swedish Nordic Noir writer, Stefan Ahnhem, is worth noting. His Fabian Risk series is a great depiction of the genre, but it doesn’t get the praise it deserves. But trust me, it isn’t because it’s not up to par. Read it for yourself if you don’t take my word for it.
Erik Axl Sund
I end this virtual tour with another writing duo, Erik Axl Sund. The Swedish writers have one book under their belt, and one of my favorite ones, The Crow Girl. In Swedish, it was written as a three-book trilogy, but it was translated into English as one volume. And a large one at that. Although you won’t mind the length once you get going. The Victoria Bergman trilogy is a very gory and gritty book that contains a lot of trigger warnings, so beware. Although a great Nordic Noir book, I don’t recommend you start off with it. It is for the more seasoned Nordic Noir readers, but one I definitely recommend you get to if you love the genre.
There are a few more Scandinavian authors that are not included on this list, that is not to say they are not worth mentioning. If you’re new to the genre, I think the ones I listed are plenty to get you started. I will surely modify the list in future years but for now, these are the ones I chose. I also felt I had to include some of the harder books to experience, such as The Crow Girl. Not an easy read, but a must-read for Nordic Noir lovers.
I really hope you enjoyed my mini-guide on Nordic Noir authors.
Until next time, keep reading fellow bookworms!