I’m dedicating this post to my favorite genre in books, Nordic Noir. It is appropriate for this time of year to delve into this moody and atmospheric genre.
Last year or the year before I joined this challenge on Instagram that spoke to me. As a huge fan of Scandinavian Noir, I immediately got drawn to it.
There’s a bookstagrammer I follow that started hosting this #Nordicnoirnovember on Instagram three years ago. If you don’t know what that is, check out her page @readbydusk.
She explains it much better than I do, but basically, it is a reading challenge to celebrate Nordic Noir books in the month of November. A bunch of voracious readers that enjoy the genre read pretty much only books that belong to this category for the whole month. Then we post our books, stacks, reviews, etc. with the hashtag #Nordicnoirnovember.
It gives us a feeling of belonging to an inclusive community, where we all have something in common. Especially this time of year, when the days are getting shorter and it gets dark so early.
Featured Author: Samuel Bjork
This year, I am going to dedicate the Nordic Noir November to a Norwegian writer who doesn’t receive enough credit, as far as I’m concerned.
Samuel Bjork is a pen name for Frode Sander Oien, a playwright, singer/songwriter, and novelist.
He wrote a series involving detectives Munch and Kruger. There are three books in this series for now, and I can only hope that more will follow.
- The first one is I’m Travelling Alone, from 2013
- The second one is The Owl Always Hunts at Night, written in 2015
- The third, The Boy in the Headlights, followed in 2019.
I absolutely loved this series, and quite honestly I don’t understand why it never got more coverage. It has all the elements of a good Nordic Noir Story: atmospheric locations, bleak and disturbing storylines, determined detectives that are flawed themselves.
That is why I decided to start, what I hope will become my November tradition for years to come, with Samuel Bjork.
There are lots of authors from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland that I will feature on this blog. Many I have read and loved, and there are still a few I’m not that familiar with yet. But fear not, I will find the time to catch up, that is a promise I’ve made to myself.
Now, let’s get down to business and discuss those books one by one.
I’m Travelling Alone
Wow, what a debut novel!
A young girl is found hanging from a tree, lifeless, with a sign around her neck that says I’m Travelling Alone.
Veteran police investigator Holger Munch is joined by brilliant, younger investigator Mia Kruger to solve this murder. They reopen a special homicide unit in Oslo that deals with gruesome cases.
Unfortunately, upon analyzing some of the evidence, it becomes clear that this is only the beginning of a killer’s sadistic game. Munch’s own granddaughter goes missing, which takes this case to a very personal level for the experienced police officer.
The whole thing may be related to the disappearance of a young girl six years ago. The team races against time to find this killer before he hurts any more children.
An explosive ending makes this book a strong first novel. The characters are well-developed and haunted by their own personal issues make this a must-read book.
If you’ve never heard of Bjork, you must give him a chance. You will not be disappointed.
The Owl Always Hunts At Night
A second in the series featuring investigators Holger Munch and Mia Kruger, The Owl Only Hunts at Night is not considered as strong as the debut novel by some reviewers. I tend to disagree. I find all three books equally good.
In this story, a teenage girl is found brutally murdered in a forest clearing, with a white lily in her mouth.
Holger’s daughter Miriam, whose daughter got abducted in the first installment, gets caught up with an animal activist group. She gets involved with them, but her trusting nature might put her life in danger again.
Mia is struggling with her own emotions she hasn’t resolved from the first book. She is not deemed fit for duties until Munch and his unorthodox ways get her to join the team. In order to help solve this strange murder, they need all the help they can get. Newcomer computer tech Gabriel Mork joins the team and offers much-needed reinforcements. While Holger struggles with his ex-wife’s remarrying and his daughter still causing him to worry, the case gets stranger by the minute.
They still have their own issues that they can’t seem to overcome, and although the storylines are similar, they are not redundant.
A good follow-up second novel that makes you want to read the third book in the series.
The Boy In The Headlights
The third installment in this series starts with reference to events that happened in 1996, parallel to 2013.
While driving home in 1996, an older man driving home encounters an animal on the road and it makes him hit the brakes. Once he stops, he finds a frightened boy with antlers on his head.
Fast forward to 2013, when the body of a young ballerina is found in a mountain lake. In the space of three weeks, two more bodies appear, and the killer leaves clues for Holger and Munch every time. Creepy, personal clues that make Mia realize the killer is doing all this to get her attention. But will they get this sadistic killer before it’s too late?
This story is so intricate and contains many twists and turns that will not allow you to guess who is behind all this. Bjork builds the storyline so well, the ending is once again surprising, as in his previous two novels.
You should read this to find out, as it is a very climatic and terrific third book in a must-read series.
There you have the reviews to a series that deserves way more credit than it has received. I hope you enjoyed my introduction to this brilliant author. I, for one, cannot wait for another book by him. Hopefully, sometime in the near future.
Until then, enjoy your Nordic Noir November, and let me know some of your favorite books or series in this genre.