#3—Nordic Mysteries: (Final/Endelig)

#3—Nordic Mysteries: (Final/Endelig)

We Come to the End/What’s Next?

In my previous posts, I covered some of my favorite Nordic mystery authors. This is my final Nordic Noir post; future posts will cover individual authors, additional genres, and some of my many biblio-obsessions!

Yrsa Sigurdardottir: Iceland

One of the things I find most fascinating about this author is that she is also a director of one of Iceland’s largest engineering firms! Her work is found on bestseller lists all over the world, and films are currently in production for several of her books. Yrsa has also written for children, and won the 2003 Icelandic Children’s Book Prize with Biobörn.

The protagonist in her mystery series’ marvelous books is Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney and single mother of two. Book 1 in the series is “Last Rituals”. I find Thora to be a very appealing main character, and an refeshing change from the typical detective investigator. She also has a dry sense of humor that is often lacking in other books in this genre. Although it is not the first in the series, my favorite book so far is “The Day is Dark”.

In The Day is Dark, when all contact is lost with two Icelanders working in a harsh and sparsely populated area on the coast of Greenland, Thóra is hired to uncover the fates of the missing people. When she arrives in Greenland, she discovers that these aren’t the first two to go missing. The local townspeople believe that the area is cursed, and no one wants to get involved in the case. Soon, Thora finds herself stranded in the middle of a wilderness, and the case is as frightening and hostile as the landscape itself.

Chilling, unsettling, and compulsively readable, The Day is Dark is a must read for readers who are looking for the next big thing in crime fiction coming in from the cold.

From us.macmillan.com

Here is a list of the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir books in order.

In Flateyri, Iceland? Check out The Old Bookstore (Iceland’s oldest bookstore will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year!)
Read more about The Old Bookstore
Read an interview with the shopkeeper, Eyþór Jóvinsson

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis: Denmark

The books by this writing team have an interesting approach; their lead character is not a detective but a Danish Red Cross nurse. Nina Borg has dedicated her life to helping those underserved by society—but her do-gooder tendencies often lead her into situations beyond the law’s protection. She has endangered her relationships with, and the lives, of her loved ones due to these tendencies. The books are not just great mysteries, but thoughtful meditations on society’s approach to those less fortunate.

The first book in the series, “The Boy in the Suitcase” was published in 2011; there are four books in total.

By the time the sequel, Invisible Murder, appeared a year later, readers knew that Nina was the main character, and she would continue as the series’ protagonist in the third and fourth books as well. In Invisible Murder, Nina has promised her husband not to volunteer with the asylum network that drew her into the previous story’s intrigue, but after she gets a call about sick Roma children living in an abandoned garage, Nina cannot help but get involved…The power of the series as a whole, notwithstanding the relentlessness of the first three stories and the somewhat slower development of the last, resides in the authors’ creation of one of the most distinctive characters in contemporary fiction. The Nina Borg books by Kaaberbøl and her collaborator Agnete Friis have given us a saga in which, as is the case with The Killing, the intensity of the woman around whom the story swirls draws us in and holds our attention.

From www.lareviewofbooks.org

In Seattle? Check out Elliott Bay Book Co.
Visit www.elliottbaybook.com
Follow them on twitter: @ElliottBayBooks

Helene Tursten: Sweden

Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. Books in the Irene Huss series include Detective Inspector HussThe TorsoThe Glass DevilNight Rounds, and The Golden Calf. Inspector Irene Huss is a 40-something detective and judo expert in Göteborg, Sweden. I must admit that I only recently discovered Tursten; I have only read “The Torso” and “The Beige Man” but I enjoyed both a great deal and it was rewarding to read books in this genre with a female protagonist. Click here for a full list of the Inspector Huss series.

In Brookline, MA? Check out Brookline Booksmith
Visit www.brooklinebooksmith.com
Follow Brookline on Twitter: @booksmithtweets

Lars Kepler: Norway

Lars Kepler is a pseudonum for authors Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander AhndorilI. I really like the Kepler books mostly due to the unconventional nature of Kepler’s protagonist Joona Linna, a Finnish Detective Superintendent at the Norwegian police’s National Operations Department. His background provides him with skills that allow him to overcome obstacles and solve cases that his colleagues find difficult or sometimes, impossible.

Joona’s parents emigrated to Sweden from neighbouring Finland when they were young. Joona’s father, Yrjö, was a policeman, and his mother Ritva a housewife. When Joona was twelve, his father was killed on duty by a man with a shotgun at a domestic incident.
After sixth form, Joona did his military service as a paratrooper, was recruited into Special Operations, and qualified for special training in the Netherlands in mixed close combat, innovative weaponry, and urban guerrilla warfare.
Joona left the military, went to the police academy, and is now an operational superintendent at the National Crime Police in Stockholm. His poor background and Finnish accent make him something of an underdog in society and in the police force – which is why he has learned to walk his own path.

From larskepler.com

He is a highly skilled crime investigator and his empathic personality gives him the ability to look beyond the image of the perpetrator as monster. He understands those who commit crimes, sees their fear and suffering, and perceives their desperate choices. This is most likely the reason why he has solved more complicated murder cases than any other police officer in Scandinavia.

In Poulsbo/Bremerton WA? Check out Liberty Bay Books
Visit www.libertybaybooks.com
Follow Liberty Bay Books on Twitter: @LIBERTYBAYBOOKS

Jussi Adler-Olsen: Denmark

I’m referring here to his “Department Q” book series. It features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl Mørck, who used to be a good homicide detective – one of Copenhagen’s best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren’t so lucky, and Carl, who didn’t draw his weapon, blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects. But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl’s assignment is to run Department Q, a new special investigation division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company, Carl has been put out to pasture. If you like “Cold Case Files” on A&E, you’ll love this series!

In In Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Check out Spoonbill & Sugartown
Visit www.spoonbillbooks.com
Follow Spoonbill Books on Twitter: @Spoonbillbooks

Last But Far From Least:

Although I was not able to cover them in detail I would be remiss not to mention some other marvelous authors in this genre:
—Kjell Eriksson, of whom the WSJ wrote “Riveting in tone and spirit…resembles the books of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, not to mention those of the modern master Henning Mankell.”
—Anne Holt, described by Jo Nesbo as “the godmother of moder Norwegian crime fiction”.
—Quentin Bates, English author who spent a decade in Iceland and writes the Officer Gunnhildur Series.
—Niklas Natt Och Dag, author of “The Wolf and the Watchman”, an intense and thrilling period mystery set in the late 1700s in Stockholm, Sweden.

Next Up:

Two of my favorite authors:
Jennifer Egan (@egangoodsquad)
Simon Winchester (@simonwriter).

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