The best of Nordic noir from a Nordic noir fan

Cecilia Ekbäck Author Of The Historians: A Thrilling Novel of Conspiracy and Intrigue During World War II
By Cecilia Ekbäck

The Books I Picked & Why


By Henning Mankell

Book cover of Sidetracked

Why this book?

Police Inspector Kurt Wallander is called to a rapeseed field where a girl is hanging around. He arrives just in time to see her pour gasoline on herself and put herself on fire. The next day Sweden’s former Minister of Justice is killed and scalped. Wallander is desperate to find the murderer before he strikes again.

Henning Mankell has been called ‘the dean of Nordic Noir,’ and his novels about policeman Kurt Wallander shows why; Sidetracked, being one of my personal favourites. Frightening crime and a very human policeman with an old-fashioned moral code strives to solve them and stay sane. What is especially brilliant with the Kurt Wallander books is how Mankell places Wallander in a real-world with problematic relations with his daughter, his father, and work partners; dreams he doesn’t act on; and living real-time events that involve his profession and the world at large.

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The Bat

By Jo Nesbø

Book cover of The Bat

Why this book?

Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is sent to Sydney to observe a murder case, only to discover a string of unsolved murders. The investigation leads them towards a psychopath who won’t stop until they make him.

Inspector Hole is another very human policeman haunted by demons; bright and obsessive, prone to using unconventional methods. A recovering alcoholic, Hole's mental health and his solitude are often a focus of the books.

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The Fire Witness

By Lars Kepler

Book cover of The Fire Witness

Why this book?

At a home for troubled girls, a young girl has been brutally murdered. One of the other girls has gone missing and the murder weapon is discovered in her bed. But is it really that easy? Detective Inspector Joona Linna pieces the evidence together. 

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. The Joona Linna series follows Linna, Detective Superintendent at the police's National Operations Department, and Saga Bauer, an Operational Superintendent at the Swedish Security Service. The diverse viewpoints and short chapters give an exciting and varied read.

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Stockholm Delete

By Jens Lapidus

Book cover of Stockholm Delete

Why this book?

Emilie Jansson, a newly made partner at a law firm in Stockholm, is asked to collaborate with Teddy, the firm’s investigator. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay out of trouble. A body is discovered after what looks like an attempted robbery. An injured man found at the scene becomes the prime suspect. Emilie takes on the role of his defence lawyer. But then the trail leads back to Teddy...

Jens Lapidus used to work as a criminal defence lawyer at a law firm representing some of the most infamous criminals in Sweden. His background gives him unusual insight and his books feel very exciting and fresh.

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By Frederick Busch

Book cover of Girls

Why this book?

Girls is not written by a Nordic author but feels very Nordic Noir… so I am giving it an honourable mention. 

Jack and Fanny’s baby daughter has died, and they are struggling to cope. Jack, a Vietnam Vet, is trying desperately to find ways to bring them back together. A fourteen-year-old girl goes missing, and Jack turns his focus to finding her, as if this could be their redemption.

Girls is the perfect read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Clean prose, irresistible characters so finely drawn. Voices that resonate. Add to this a very suspenseful plot…

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