Scandinavian Mysteries

Unless otherwise noted, summaries on this page are quoted from fantasticfiction.co.uk



Alvtegen, Karin. Missing, 2009.

Sybilla Forsenstrom doesn’t exist. For fifteen years she has been excluded from society and, as one of the homeless in Stockholm, she takes each day as it comes, keeping all her possessions in her rucksack – apart from a knife and salami which she stores in a smart briefcase. She is always well-dressed and displays impeccable manners. One night, in The Grand Hotel, she charms a susceptible businessman into paying for her dinner and room. His dead body is discovered the following morning and Sybilla becomes the prime suspect. When a second person is killed in similar circumstances, she becomes the most wanted person in Sweden.


Bates, Quentin. Frozen Out (aka Frozen Assets), 2011.
Gunnhildur series, #1.

A body is found floating in the harbor of a rural Icelandic fishing village. Was it an accident, or something more sinister? It’s up to Officer Gunnhildur, a sardonic female cop, to find out. Her investigation uncovers a web of corruption connected to Iceland’s business and banking communities. Meanwhile, a rookie crime journalist latches onto her, looking for a scoop, and an anonymous blogger is stirring up trouble. The complications increase, as do the stakes, when a second murder is committed.


Dahl, KO. The Fourth Man, 2007.
Frank Folich series, #1.

In the course of a routine police raid, Detective Inspector Frank Frolich of the Oslo Police saves Elizabeth Faremo from getting inadvertently caught in crossfire. By the time he learns that she is the sister of Jonny Faremo, wanted member of a larceny gang, it is already too late. He is obsessed. Suspected, suspended, and blindly in love, Frolich must find out if he is being used before his life unravels beyond repair.


Ekman, Kerstin. Blackwater, 1993.

In 1974 in the far north of Sweden, Annie’s lover is brutally murdered. She tries to bury the past, but many years later, her grown daughter is seen in the arms of the man Annie believes responsible for the killings.


Elkins, Aaron The Worst Thing, 2011.

When Bryan Bennett’s boss asks him to fly to Iceland to teach his corporate level kidnapping and extortion seminar, he says no-after all, designing hostage negotiation programs is the perfect job as long as he keeps a safe distance from danger. After experiencing a kidnapping during his childhood, he never wants to risk it again, no matter how long the odds. But the CEO wants Bryan-or no one.

For decades he’s treaded gingerly around the edges of his deepest terrors. Now, on this trip Bryan must face his fears full on. Will he realize that in this battle of will and nerve, he is his own greatest enemy? Or did he lose this fight years ago?


Fossum, Karin. Don’t Look Back, 2002.
Inspector Sejer series, #2.

Beneath the imposing Kollen Mountain lies a small village where the children run in and out of one another’s houses and play unafraid in the streets. But the sleepy village is like a pond through which not enough water runs – beneath the surface it is beginning to stagnate. When a naked body is found by the lake at the top of the mountain, its seeming tranquility is disturbed forever. Enter Inspector Sejer, a tough, no-nonsense policeman whose own life is tinged by sadness. As the suspense builds, and the list of suspects grows, Sejer’s determination to discover the truth will lead him to peel away layer upon layer of distrust and lies, in this tiny community where apparently normal family ties hide dark secrets.


Fossum, Karin. Black Seconds, 2007.
Inspector Sejer series, #6.

A little girl has vanished without a trace. Inspector Sejer must find her before it’s too late — another gripping novel in Karin Fossum’s acclaimed mystery series.

Ida Joner gets on her brand-new bike and sets off to buy sweets. A good-natured, happy girl, she is looking forward to her tenth birthday. Thirty-five minutes after Ida should have come home, her mother, Helga, starts to worry. She phones the shop and various friends, but no one has seen her daughter. As the family goes out looking for Ida, Helga’s worst nightmare becomes reality, and they contact the police.

Hundreds of volunteers comb the neighbourhood, but there are no traces of Ida or her bike. As the relatives reach breaking point and the media frenzy begins, Inspector Sejer is calm and reassuring. But he finds the case puzzling. Usually missing children are found within forty-eight hours. Ida Joner seems to have vanished without a trace.


Hoeg, Peter. Smilla’s Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow). 1993.

She thinks more highly of snow and ice than she does of love. She lives in a world of numbers, science and memories–a dark, exotic stranger in a strange land. And now Smilla Jaspersen is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime…

It happened in the Copenhagen snow. A six-year-old boy, a Greenlander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building. While the boy’s body is still warm, the police pronounce his death an accident. But Smilla knows her young neighbor didn’t fall from the roof on his own. Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow. For her dead neighbor, and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice….summary from amazon.com


Indriðason, Arnaldur. Jar City (aka Tainted Blood), 2004.
Inspector Erlendur series, #1.

A man is found murdered in his Reykjav-k flat, and the police have no obvious leads. The man lived alone and had no family, and of his only two friends, one is serving time for an array of petty crimes and psychotic violence, and the other hasn’t been heard of for twenty-five years. Erlendur and his colleague Sigurdur -li head the investigation team. They find a computer filled with downloaded pornography, and in a desk, the photograph of a young girl’s grave and the cryptic note left behind by the killer. Delving into the dead man’s past, they discover that forty years ago he was accused, though not convicted, of rape. Now Erlendur has to follow his instincts when his colleagues are losing faith in the investigation. Foraging into the past, Erlendur discovers that the city of Reykjav-k has one or two secrets of its own, secrets it would rather keep.


Indriðason, Arnaldur.The Draining Lake, 2004 Icelandic, 2007 English.
Inspector Erlendur series, #4.

Following an earthquake, the water level of an Icelandic lake suddenly falls to reveal a skeleton half-buried in its sandy bed. It has clearly been there many years. There is a large hole in the skull. Yet more mysteriously, it is weighted down by a heavy radio transmitter bearing inscriptions in Russian. The police are called in and Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli begin their investigation. It takes them back to the Cold War era, when bright, left-wing students in Iceland would be sent to study in the ‘heavenly state’ of Communist East Germany. A trail begins to emerge, from the hopes of youth to international espionage and murder in Iceland. It will take some time, however, before this episode gives up its secrets, or its various betrayals are avenged.


Läckberg, Camilla. The Ice Princess, 2008.
Patrik Hedstrom series, #1.

The writer Erica Falck has returned to her home town on the death of her parents, but discovers the community in turmoil. A close childhood friend, Alex, has been found dead. Her wrists have been slashed, and her body is frozen solid in a bath that has turned to ice. Erica decides to write a memoir about the charismatic but withdrawn Alex, more as a means of overcoming her own writer’s block than solving the mystery of Alex’s death. But Erica finds that her interest in Alex is becoming almost obsessive. She begins to work with local detective Patrik Hedstrom, and the duo soon find that some unpleasant secrets are buried beneath the comfortable surface of the town.


MacLeod, Torquil. Missing in Malmo, 2013.
Anita Sundstrom series, #3.

When a British heir hunter fails to return home after a trip to Malmo, Inspector Anita Sundstrom doesn’t want to get entangled in a simple missing persons case. She shows a similar reluctance when her ex-husband begs her to find his girlfriend, who seems to have disappeared. But when the mysteries take a sinister turn, Sundstrom finds herself inextricably involved in both baffling affairs, one of which seems to be connected to a robbery that took place 20 years earlier. As the cases begin to unravel, tragedy awaits the investigating team.


Mankell, Henning. Sidetracked, 1995.
Kurt Wallander series, #5.

Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day he is called to a beach where Sweden’s former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalped. The murder has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer, and Wallander is frantic to find him before he strikes again. But his investigation is beset with a handful of obstacles—a department distracted by the threat of impending cutbacks and the frivolity of World Cup soccer, a tenuous long-distance relationship with a murdered policeman’s widow, and the unshakably haunting preoccupation with the young girl who set herself on fire. summary from amazon.com


Marklund, Liza. Lifetime, 2013.
Annika Bengtzon series, #7.

Police Officer Nina Hoffman finds her fellow officer David Lindholm naked on his bed with bullets through his head and stomach. Next to the body is his wife, Julia. The traumatized Julia rambles on about a woman entering the house, killing David and running off with her son, but all the evidence seems to point in Julia’s direction. Annika Bengtzon covers the case and is drawn in headfirst when she sees that Julia is about to be falsely charged. Working against the clock, Annika must clear Julia’s name and find her missing son.


Miller, Derek B. Norwegian By Night, 2004.

Sheldon Horowitz – 82 years old, impatient, and unreasonable – is staying with his granddaughter’s family in Norway when he disappears with a stranger’s child. Sheldon is an ex-Marine, and he feels responsible for his son’s death in Vietnam. Recently widowed and bereft, he talks to the ghosts of his past constantly.

To Norway’s cops, Sheldon is just an old man who is coming undone at the end of a long and hard life. But Sheldon is clear in his own mind. He’d heard the boy’s eastern European mother being murdered, and he’s determined to protect the child from the killer and his Balkan gang. With an endearing combination of dexterity and daring, Sheldon manages to elude the police in what is hostile, foreign territory for him. But what he doesn’t know is that the police and the gang both know where he’s heading.


Nesbo, Jo. Cockroaches, 2014.
Harry Hole series, #2.

Detective Harry Hole arrives in a steaming hot Bangkok. But it’s work, not pleasure. The Norwegian ambassador has been found dead in a seedy motel room, and no witnesses have come forward. The ambassador had close ties to the Norwegian prime minister, and to avoid a scandal Harry is sent there to hush up the case. But he quickly discovers that there is much more going on behind the scenes and very few people willing to talk. When Harry lays hands on some CCTV footage that will help him unravel what happened that night, things only get more complicated. The man who gave him the tape goes missing, and Harry realizes that failing to solve a murder case is by no means the only danger in Bangkok.


Sigurðardóttir, Yrsa. Last Rituals, 2009.
Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, #1.

After the body of a young German student—with his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest-is discovered at a university in Reykjavík, the police waste no time in making an arrest. The victim’s family isn’t convinced they have the right man, however, so they ask Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. The fee is considerable-more than enough to make things a bit easier for the struggling lawyer and her children.

It’s not long before Thóra and Matthew Reich, her new associate, discover something unusual about the deceased student: He had been obsessed with the country’s grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts-a topic made all the more peculiar by the fact that unlike witch hunts in other countries, those in Iceland had targeted men . . . not women.

As Thóra and Matthew dig deeper, they make the connection between long-bygone customs and the student’s murder. But the shadow of dark traditions conceals secrets in both the past and the present, and the investigators soon realize that nothing is as it seems . . . and that no one can be trusted.


Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo, Per. The Man on the Balcony, 2011.
Martin Beck series, #3.

The chilling third novel in the Martin Beck mystery series by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Martin Beck investigating a string of child murders.In the once peaceful parks of Stockholm, a killer is stalking young girls and disposing their bodies. The city is on edge, and an undercurrent of fear has gripped its residents. Martin Beck, now a superintendent, has two possible witnesses: a silent, stone-cold mugger and a mute three year old boy. With the likelihood of another murder growing as each day passes, the police force work night and day. But their efforts have offered little insight into the methodology of the killer. Then a distant memory resurfaces in Beck’s mind, and he may just have the break he needs. summary from amazon.com


Thompson, James. Snow Angels, 2009 (Finnish), 2010 (English).
Inspector Vaara series, book #1.

It is called kaamos–two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.

This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life. summary from amazon.com


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