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

Who am I?

I was born in Sweden in a northern fishing town. My parents come from Lapland. I always loved reading, especially crime novels. My parents used to drop me off at the local library and pick me up at closing time. When young, I worked for the local newspaper and had dreams of becoming a journalist. Instead, it became a corporate career with postings all over the world. When I picked up writing again in my early forties, it didn’t come together for me until I put a dead body in there, and thus I found myself writing thrillers. Nordic Noir is a genre I am particularly fond of. It is crime, where setting in the broadest use of the word (physical, mental, geographical, climate…) is allowed to take space. Below you will find five of my favourites. 

I wrote...

The Historians: A Thrilling Novel of Conspiracy and Intrigue During World War II

By Cecilia Ekbäck,

Book cover of The Historians: A Thrilling Novel of Conspiracy and Intrigue During World War II

What is my book about?

In 1943, Sweden’s neutrality is under pressure. Laura Dahlgren, the right hand of the chief negotiator with Germany is privy to ongoing discussions about German access to Swedish iron ore. When her former best friend and fellow classmate, Britta is discovered tortured and murdered, Laura becomes determined to find her killer. In the Swedish government, Jens Regnell, the secretary to the unpopular minister of foreign affairs, is becoming increasingly worried that his boss is secretly negotiating with the Reich. He is sent Britta’s PhD thesis on Scandinavian supremacy without understanding why. In Lapland, near the iron mine, Sami are mysteriously disappearing. Taneli, a young Sami boy, decides to investigate after his sister suddenly goes missing.

Together these three people will uncover a conspiracy that could topple their government and destroy their country’s identity – a conspiracy others are desperate to contain at any cost. 

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The books I picked & why


By Henning Mankell, Steven T. Murray (translator),

Book cover of Sidetracked

Why did I love 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.

By Henning Mankell, Steven T. Murray (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sidetracked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Midsummer approaches, and Inspector Kurt Wallander prepares for a holiday with the new woman in his life, hopeful that his wayward daughter and his ageing father will cope without him.

But his restful summer plans are thrown into disarray when a teenage girl commits suicide before his eyes, and a former minister of justice is butchered in the first of a series of apparently motiveless murders. Wallander's desperate hunt for the girl's identity and his furious pursuit of a killer who scalps his victims will throw him and those he loves most into mortal danger.


The Bat

By Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (translator),

Book cover of The Bat

Why did I love 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.

By Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Bat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can.


When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will talk only to Harry.


Appearing in English for the first time,…

The Fire Witness

By Lars Kepler, Neil Smith (translator),

Book cover of The Fire Witness

Why did I love 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.

By Lars Kepler, Neil Smith (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fire Witness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A terrifying new thriller in the the internationally bestselling Killer Instinct series: Detective Joona Linna finds himself on a collision course with a terrifying killer whose past is more troubling than anyone could imagine.

“One of those rare books that is truly difficult to put down.” —New York Journal of Books

A brutal killing spree at a home for wayward teens. One girl is dead, another is missing. Joona Linna scrambles to track her down before the death toll mounts.

Stockholm Delete

By Jens Lapidus,

Book cover of Stockholm Delete

Why did I love 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.

By Jens Lapidus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stockholm Delete as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stockholm Delete is a superbly gritty thriller which gets right to the heart of the Stockholm criminal world.

Emilie Jansson has just been made partner at a prestigious law firm when she is asked to work with an unusual partner. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay on the right side of the law while working as the firm's fixer and Special Investigator.

Meanwhile, a body is discovered in a remote house in the country after what looks like an attempted robbery - and a severely wounded man found near the scene is soon in the frame for murder. Emilie…


By Frederick Busch,

Book cover of Girls

Why did I love 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…

By Frederick Busch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

In the unrelenting cold and bitter winter of upstate New York, Jack and his wife, Fanny, are trying to cope with the desperate sorrow they feel over the death of their young daughter. The loss forms a chasm in their relationship as Jack, a sardonic Vietnam vet, looks for a way to heal them both.

Then, in a nearby town, a fourteen-year-old girl disappears somewhere between her home and church. Though she is just one of the hundreds of children who vanish every year in America, Jack turns all his attention to this little…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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