10 best Nordic Noir 2021

Time to round up the Nordic Noir year 2021 – with some old masters and many new voices, with classic stories about violence and horror to the more witty and stylish ones. Here are some of my personal favourites:

The lost village by Camilla Sten

The Lost Village / Camilla Sten
An impressive debut novel, where a documentary filmmaker travels with her crew to an abandoned mining town in remote Sweden – to gather information and footage for her new project. But as the group settles in and begins exploring, a series of bizarre and inexplicable things begin to happen and it becomes clear that they might not be alone. Fear spreads, the  atmosphere thickens and the relationships within the group become more and more complicated. Step by step the little village transforms into a very spooky place in this gripping mixture of horror and detective story. Read more…


The girl who died by Ragnar Jónasson

The Girl Who Died / Ragnar Jónasson
A highly original psychological suspense novel, the first standalone by an author famous for his series of classic-crime-inspired detective novels. This chilling story is set in a very dark and isolated village in north eastern Iceland, where the locals stick together to guard their village and their history against the outside world. There is a crime, but it is not the focus of most of the novel. Jónasson´s true mastership lies in his ability to paint a vivid picture of the desolate and harsh Icelandic landscape and to create an oppressive and threatening atmosphere with a touch of the supernatural. Read more…


The Corpse Flower / Anne Mette Hancock
An original and touching debut novel, that was awarded the Danish Crime Academy’s debutant prize. It is a dark and disturbing psychological thriller. The narrative starts off with an old and seemingly straightforward murder case, but step by step the even more uglier secrets beneath it are revealed. An intriguing plot that alternates between past and present and between different perspectives. The story is mainly set in Copenhagen and moves swiftly around the city, with some quick detours to France. Gradually the characters develop and become more an more interesting and personal. Read more…


The seven doors by Agnes Ravatn

The Seven Doors / Agnes Ravatn
Nina Wisløff, an experienced Bergen university professor, has reached a turning point, where her work and her life seem increasingly irrelevant. When a young woman in her neighbourhood disappears, leaving her young son behind, Nina feels a sense of guilt and step by step she turns into an unlikely, but dangerously curious detective. A witty, sophisticated and highly original psychological thriller, where references to Norse mythology, folklore, music and literature deepen the story and lead to the eternal question: Is there a potential criminal in all of us? Read more…


The butterfly house by Katrine Engberg

The Butterfly House / Katrine Engberg
Early one morning, a paperboy on his route in the center of Copenhagen city stumbles upon a macabre find: the body of a dead woman, floating in a fountain. Cause of death? Exsanguination – the draining of all the blood in her body. Clearly, this is no ordinary murder and when another body shows up the next morning, it’s a real crisis.This is the start of a compelling police procedural with an inventive plot, that deals with such different things as rare antique murder weapons and the shortcomings of the Danish psychiatric health system. For Copenhagen lovers and for those who plan to visit the city, it´s an absolute must. Read more…


Rites of spring by Anders de la Motte

Rites of Spring / Anders de la Motte
A tense and melancholic novel set in the countryside of southern Sweden, where the author himself grew up. His deep knowledge of the neighbourhood and detailed descriptions of the people and places make them easy to visualize and help creating a certain atmosphere. The story is told by using two different timelines, Walpurgis Night of 1986 when a sixteen-year-old girl was ritualistically murdered in the woods adjacent to a castle and the present day, when the new doctor moves into the castle. The chapters interlink well and the secrets from the past are revealed little by little, offering unexpected twists and turns. Read more…


Cabin Fever / Alex Dahl
A dark and intense psychological thriller about obsession and mental health by acclaimed American/Norwegian novelist Alex Dahl. A remote and isolated cabin in the middle of a deep Norwegian forest. Add dark, cold and wet winter weather – and you have got the perfect background for this unsettling story about a therapist and her client.  The setting creates a claustrophobic and threatening atmosphere, where the plot slowly moves forward and reveals layer by layer of dark secrets. There are some shocking revelations in a dramatic ending, which will make us all question how well we know even the people closest to us. Read more…


We Know You Remember / Tove Alsterdal
This is the first part of a compelling new series, featuring detective Eira Sjödin and set in the Ådalen valley on the High Coast of north eastern Sweden. A beautiful and atmospheric novel with an interesting plot and a very likeable detective as main character. Besides her wonderful descriptions of the rural environments, the author manages to shed light on larger historical and social issues through her characters. She is well-known for creating engaging portrayals and her characters´ personal experiences are important parts of the crime story. Winner of Best Swedish Crime Novel 2020 and The Glass Key Award for Nordic Crime Fiction 2020. Read more…


The commandments by Oskar Gudmundsson

The Commandments / Óskar Guðmundsson
The first in a series featuring police detective Salka Steinsdottir by an interesting new voice in Icelandic crime fiction.  Wonderful mix of interesting police procedural and psychological thriller set in a small and tightly knit rural community near Akureyri, the capital of Northern Iceland. A fascinating, exciting and well written novel highlighting serious problems, that both the church and the society have made their best to sweep under the carpet. A  sensitive and tense narrative, that keeps the reader in a tight grip until the heart-breaking finale. Read more…


Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Betrayal / Lilja Sigurðardóttir
A modern, fast-paced and intricate psychological thriller about the dark side of politics. International aid worker Úrsúla has returned to Iceland, where she accepts a government role, but life in high office soon becomes agonizing. The title of the novel is perfect,  since the narrative is an exploration into different kinds of betrayal, from the global to the very personal. The story also manifests how small betrayals easily become large ones. It is a standalone set in today´s Reykjavík and dealing with contemporary issues like corruption, misogyny, absent fathers, alcoholism, homelessness – and even the pros and cons of apps like Tinder. Read more…