10 best Nordic Noir 2020

The months go by fast and it is time to sum up the best releases in Scandinavian crime fiction during 2020. Besides, the holidays are approaching and this year staying at home reading seems to be a very relevant option. I have chosen some of my personal favourites from 2020 – to add on your holiday reading list or maybe check out as the perfect gift for the crime fiction lover.

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Witch hunt in snowy Helsinki

There are not many Finnish crime fiction writers translated into English, but Max Seeck is a new and highly original voice. His novel The Witch Hunter centers around some gruesome murders in today´s Helsinki – with puzzling ties to witchcraft and the occult.

Detective Jessica Niemi is called to investigate a murder case in an affluent Helsinki suburb, a case which is completely out of the ordinary. Famous author Roger Koponen´s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of an empty dining table. The most chilling feature is that her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

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Scatter Her Ashes – gripping suspense by Heine Bakkeid

Norwegian author Heine Bakkeid made an acclaimed crime fiction debut last year with the novel I Will Miss You Tomorrow, featuring degraded former police officer Thorkild Aske. Now he is back with the exciting and atmospheric sequel Scatter Her Ashes.
Thorkild is at rock bottom after his last adventures in the north. He suffers from physical and mental scars, but is forced to stop taking his painkillers. Desperate for work, he reluctantly agrees to investigate the disappearance of two schoolgirls for bestselling crime writer Milla Lind. She claims it is research for her latest novel, but in fact the search is for Milla’s own teenage daughter, the daughter she had given up years earlier.

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Top Nordic suspense books for Halloween

Dark chilly nights, autumn leaves swirling in the wind and carved pumpkins with empty eyes staring at you from every doorstep. Halloween must be the perfect time for reading creepy crime fiction novels. Especially this year when many of our usual pleasures are restricted and we are more or less confined to our homes.
Why not make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine, and snuggle on the sofa with a book that will make you forget everything about pandemics and lockdowns. Here are some of my favourites, immersive and exciting crime fiction books, spiced with an extra touch of mystique or horror:

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A new Inspector Barbarotti novel by Håkan Nesser

The Secret Life of Mr. Roos is the third Inspector Barbarotti novel by Håkan Nesser. A secluded hut in the middle of the woods and a risky double life. Mr Roos actually does what many people dream of, but unfortunately it doesn´t turn out well in the end.
59 years old Ante Valdemar Roos hates his job and barely gets along with his second wife and two stepdaughters. One day, a winning lottery ticket makes it possible for him to fulfil his childhood dream. Without informing his wife, he buys a hut in the middle of a forest. He resigns from work and decides to spend the rest of his days alone, but…

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Tense family drama by Alex Dahl

Half-Norwegian half-American author Alex Dahl has written a tense family drama set in the small town of Sandefjord on the Norwegian south coast. If you shun reading translations this is a great opportunity to read some Nordic Noir written in English.

Seven-year-old Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. She wanted to stay overnight and Lucia´s mother Elisa drove by to drop her overnight things round and kiss her goodnight. That was the last time she saw her daughter.
The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No Lucia and absolutely no traces of the family that Elisa had visited the previous day. It was meant to be her little daughter’s first sleepover. Now it’s an abduction.

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The Kingdom – a new thriller by Jo Nesbø

The Kingdom is a thriller and a gripping family drama about two brothers. Roy lives a peaceful life in the remote Norwegian village where he grew up. His younger brother Carl left early to travel the world and Roy believed he was gone for good. But Carl suddenly returns with a mysterious new wife and big business plans. He not only wants to make the brothers rich but the rest of the village, too. Unfortunately old family secrets threaten to resurface and Carl´s homecoming sparks off a series of violent events. Besides, Roy finds himself inextricably drawn to Carl’s wife, an attraction that will have devastating consequences. As children, Roy always protected his little brother, but this time his loyalty to family is tested to the extreme. He will be forced to make a very hard choice…

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Young Wallander – new series on Netflix

Kurt Wallander, the famous Swedish police detective created by Henning Mankell, is being revived. The Kurt Wallander novels were written in the 90s and all set in the little town of Ystad. Later the books were adapted for TV and the character Kurt Wallander has been played by Rolf Lassgård, Krister Henriksson and even the English actor Kenneth Branagh. Young Wallander tells the story of Kurt Wallander’s first case and we meet him as a young man, fresh from the police academy. He is played by the Swedish rising star Adam Pålsson, surrounded by a mixture of English and Swedish actors and with a dialogue in English.

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End of Summer – a psychological drama

Summer 1983: Four-year-old Billy chases a rabbit in the garden behind his house. But when his mother goes looking for him, Billy has disappeared. Never to be seen again.
Today: Veronica is a bereavement counsellor. She’s never fully come to terms with her mother’s suicide after her brother Billy’s disappearance. When a young man walks into her therapy group, he looks familiar and talks about the trauma of his friend’s disappearance in 1983. Could Billy still be alive after all this time? Needing to know the truth, Veronica goes home – to the place where her life started to fall apart. Is she prepared for the answers that wait for her there?

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Another chilling Reykjavík mystery

On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavík stands Gálgaklettur or the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until one morning, when a man is found hanging from it. At first it looks like suicide, but a nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn’t.
But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn´t know why he is there, he doesn´t seem to have any link with the victim and his parents cannot be found.

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