The best Nordic Noir books to get you hooked on this genre

Who am I?

I'm an engineer with a PhD in electrical engineering and have spent more than twenty years of my career in the nanoelectronics industry researching how to create better electronic chips. The need to tell stories has always been there, but I never really envisioned a career as a writer. It wasn't until my 40s that I decided it was time to rekindle that passion for writing. I've always loved the dark atmosphere of Scandinavian noir TV series like The Killing and The Bridge with their often flawed and intriguing characters. So when I decided to write my first novel, it was almost a given that it was going to be a Nordic Noir thriller.

I wrote...

The Find

By Venezia Miller,

Book cover of The Find

What is my book about?

This Nordic Noir thriller follows a team of police investigators who try to catch a serial killer in the dark forests of Sandviken, Sweden, and it is the first book in a series of suspenseful novels set in the Far North.

During a hike, PhD student Alexander Nordin finds human remains. After discovering more bodies, the police realize they are looking for a serial killer. Inspectors Isa Lindström and her partner Magnus Wieland are assigned to the case. While their investigation soon leads to four families who spent their summer vacation together in the area, the search for the killer triggers a series of dramatic events with far-reaching consequences.

The books I picked & why

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The Snowman

By Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (translator),

Book cover of The Snowman

Why this book?

When the first snow falls, married women disappear. This book has everything a good Scandi Noir should have: a terrifying yet intriguing murderer, an inspector who, despite his many flaws and unorthodox methods, won't let anything stop him and instills a certain sympathy as an anti-hero. All this against a backdrop of eerie snowscapes and an incredibly dark, menacing undertone that shimmers throughout the book.

If you're not familiar with the Harry Hole series, this book will definitely leave you wanting more.

The Chestnut Man

By Soren Sveistrup,

Book cover of The Chestnut Man

Why this book?

It may be a cliche but my first experience with nordic noir was The Killing (Forbrydelsen). This Danish TV series in which inspector Sarah Lund goes in search of the murderer of a young girl fascinated me enormously. Not only because of the oppressive atmosphere that grabs you by the throat at times, but also because of the fantastic character development. The series was created by Søren Sveistrup, the author of the equally magisterial The Chestnut Man. The book begins when a young woman is found horribly mutilated in a playground on a chilly October morning. Next to her is a doll made of chestnuts and sticks. When a chestnut man is also found at the scene of a subsequent murder, it is clear that a serial killer is at work.

Until the Night

By Giles Blunt,

Book cover of Until the Night

Why this book?

Giles Blunt's books show that Scandinavia does not have a monopoly on Nordic Noir. In 2017 we were on vacation in Canada and quite by chance I saw an episode of Cardinal on TV. Only one episode from the first season, but enough to keep me captivated by the story set in the snowy landscapes of Algonquin Bay in Canada. I knew it was based on a book series. When I got home, I immediately found the author and started reading. I chose this book because of some amazing passages that capture the essence of Nordic Noir, among others a frozen body in the ruins of an abandoned hotel in the woods. The book presents a clever plot where seemingly unrelated threads are ingeniously weaved together. 

Snowblind: A Thriller

By Ragnar Jonasson,

Book cover of Snowblind: A Thriller

Why this book?

Snowblind is Ragnar Jonasson's debut and the first book in the Dark Iceland series. Again, an author who knows perfectly how to evoke that moody, compelling Nordic Noir vibe. He paints a vivid picture of the isolated town of Siglufjordur in the far north, and the claustrophobic feeling that creeps in when residents are trapped in the city by a snowstorm. A great read that sometimes reminded me of Agatha Christie's locked room mystery The Mousetrap: a snowstorm, broken phone lines, and a bunch of people trapped with a murderer among them.

The Legacy: A Thriller

By Yrsa Sigurdardottir,

Book cover of The Legacy: A Thriller

Why this book?

A mother is murdered, and her seven-year-old daughter is the only witness, but she does not speak. Detective Huldar and psychologist Freyja must find out what the girl saw and stop the killer. 

Yrsa Sigurdardottir puts her own stamp on the Nordic Noir genre and combines crime fiction with a touch of horror, which I really like. Although this book is more of a police procedural, the plot is layered and complex, and still brings out that dark, chilling, and disturbing side of the crimes and the secrets the characters hold.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Nordic noir, Norway, and police?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Nordic noir, Norway, and police.

Nordic Noir Explore 9 books about Nordic noir
Norway Explore 32 books about Norway
Police Explore 93 books about police

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Sidetracked, The Bat, and The Fire Witness if you like this list.