It Was A Dark And Nordic Night

If you like to read mysteries and detective books but haven’t checked out Scandinavian writers you are missing some great books.

The detectives in Scandinavian crime fiction share many attributes with their American and British counterparts. Many are unkempt, unhealthy and sometimes fatalistic characters, but are nevertheless humane and brilliant sleuths.

They are often set in what is often called “Brooding Landscapes.”

Ingebretsen’s has a Mystery Crime Book Club that meets once a month. Here are some of the Scandinavian writers we have been reading:

The first book we read was Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø. Nesbø is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers, with his Harry Hole novels. Blood on Snow was not part of the Harry Hole series and was interesting in it’s use of first person from the view of the hit man.

Before becoming a crime writer, Nesbø played football for Norway’s premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs ended when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen. After three years military service he attended business school and formed the band “Di derre” (‘Them There’). They topped the charts in Norway, but Nesbø continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night. When commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole crime novel, “The Bat.”

Our next book was “The Keeper of Lost Causes” by Jussi Adler-Olsen, a book that begins in 2007 and ends in 2014, traversing back and forth to the past and the present. As you read you realize there are many “keepers of lost causes” in this story. This was the first in a series of books featuring detective Carl Mørk.

Born in Copenhagen, Adler-Olsen was the youngest of four children and the only boy. Son of the successful sexologist and psychiatrist Henry Olsen, he spent his childhood with his family in doctors’ official residences at several mental hospitals across Denmark.  Adler-Olsen’s novels have been sold in more than 40 languages including being a frequent visitor on the top of the bestseller lists e.g. on the New York Times Paperback bestseller list. You can read an interview with him when he was in Minneapolis here.

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the Danish duo behind the Nina Borg series and the last book we read “The Boy in the Suitcase.” Their first collaboration, The Boy in the Suitcase, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and has been translated into more than 30 languages.Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of 15.  They are also the authors of two other Nina Borg novels in addition to “The Boy in the Suitcase”: “Invisible Murder” and “Death of a Nightingale.”

“The Preacher” by Camilla Läckberg is the book we are reading for our next meeting on September 22nd. Läckberg considers herself a crime writing dilettante since discovering such literature on her father’s bookshelf at a young age. It has remained a fascination for her ever since. Läckberg’s books have received special praise for detail and “in-depth characterization.” Läckberg – sometimes called the Swedish Agatha Christie – became a writer after her husband and parents enrolled her in a creative writing course as a Christmas present. She describes herself as a visual writer:

“For me actually, specific images – snapshots – come first, and then the story starts to come together from those bits and pieces. I am very visual when I write, I ‘see’ the story in pictures and writing a book is like having a movie running in my head 24/7.”

Ingebretsen’s carries more Scandinavian mystery and crime books. Check it out in the store or online.