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The most gripping Nordic noir books crime and thriller fans shouldn’t miss

Dark, intelligent thrillers full of bleak landscapes and brutal crimes, Nordic noir books are loved by crime and thriller fans. Here's our edit of the best Nordic crime fiction.

The publication of the bestselling Swedish novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo kickstarted the Nordic crime fiction trend, and left crime and thriller fans hungry for more Scandinavian crime novels. Set in bleak landscapes and centred on even bleaker crimes, often following a brooding outsider in their struggle for justice, Nordic noir’s dark themes and shocking twists offer enough thrills for even the most hardened crime novel fan. Here’s our edit of the best Nordic noir books.

The Lonely Ones

by Håkan Nesser

Book cover for The Lonely Ones

From one of the best Nordic noir writers comes an ominous story about history repeating itself, forcing Detective Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti to confront a grave truth. 

A lecturer is found dead at Lund University, at the bottom of a cliff. Suspicions arise when it is discovered that a student from Uppsala University died in the same way, at the same spot, decades ago. Slowly, the story of six students in 1960s Uppsala is revealed, including a trip through Eastern Europe that would change everything for them. 

The fourth novel in Håkan Nesser’s quintet about Inspector Barbarotti, The Lonely Ones is full of Nesser's trademark suspense and intrigue. 

A Nearly Normal Family

by M. T. Edvardsson

Book cover for A Nearly Normal Family

Part Scandi noir, part domestic drama, this intelligent psychological thriller is told from three points of view, father, mother and daughter. Both family relationships and morals are tested when Stella, daughter of pastor Adam and lawyer Ulrika, is accused of the murder of a much older man. How far will Adam and Ulrika go to protect their only child? And what do they really believe?

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

by Stieg Larsson

Book cover for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.

He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

The Killing 1

by David Hewson

Book cover for The Killing 1

Sarah Lund is looking forward to her last day as a detective with the Copenhagen Police Department before moving to Sweden. But everything changes when nineteen-year-old student, Nanna Birk Larsen, is found raped and brutally murdered in the woods outside the city. Lund's plans to relocate are put on hold as she leads the investigation along with fellow detective Jan Meyer.

While Nanna's family struggles to cope with their loss, local politician, Troels Hartmann, is in the middle of an election campaign to become the new mayor of Copenhagen. When links between City Hall and the murder suddenly come to light, the case takes an entirely different turn. Over the course of twenty days, suspect upon suspect emerges as violence and political intrigue cast their shadows over the hunt for the killer . . .

Discover all the books in The Killing series

Snow White Must Die

by Nele Neuhaus

Book cover for Snow White Must Die

Detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bodenstein arrive at the scene of a strange accident on a rainy November day – a woman has fallen from a bridge and onto the motorway below, and it seems she may have been pushed. 

The hunt for clues leads them to a small town near Frankfurt and the home of Rita Cramer, the victim. But eleven years earlier, two girls vanished without trace from the same village, leading to the imprisonment of Rita's son Tobias. As he returns to the village to clear his name, events from the past appear to repeat themselves . . .

The first book in the Bodenstein & Kirchoff crime series, Snow White Must Die is the international bestseller from Nele Nauhaus. 

The Ice Lands

by Steinar Bragi

Book cover for The Ice Lands

Set against Iceland's volcanic hinterlands, four thirty-somethings from Reykjavik – the reckless hedonist Egill; the recovering alcoholic Hrafin; and their partners Anna and Vigdis – embark on an ambitious camping trip, their jeep packed with supplies.

Victims of the financial crisis, the purpose of the trip is to heal both professional and personal wounds, but the desolate landscape forces the group to reflect on the shattered lives they've left behind in the city. As their jeep hurtles through the barren land, an impenetrable fog descends, causing them to suddenly crash into a rural farmhouse.

Seeking refuge from the storm, the group discover that the isolated dwelling is inhabited by a mysterious elderly couple who inexplicably barricade themselves inside every night. As past tensions within the group rise to the surface, the merciless weather blocks every attempt at escape, forcing them to ask difficult questions: who has been butchering animals near the house? What happened to the abandoned village nearby where bones lie strewn across the ground? And most importantly, will they ever return home?

The Ice Princess

by Camilla Läckberg

Book cover for The Ice Princess

A suspenseful story from international crime-thriller sensation Camilla Läckberg, The Ice Princess follows Erica Falck as she returns to her childhood home – the tiny, remote village of Fjällbacka, Sweden – following the death of her parents. 

Having only just arrived, Erica encounters another tragedy: the suicide of her childhood best friend, Alex. A beautiful woman who had it all, Erica is bewildered as to why Alex would take her own life, until she teams up with police detective Patrik Hedström. As the two delve deeper into the mysteries' of Alex's childhood, their friendly flirtation gives way to powerful attraction, just as it becomes clear that a deadly secret is at stake. 

Roseanna

by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

Book cover for Roseanna

The first novel in the acclaimed Martin Beck mystery series is renowned as a masterpiece, from crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. 

Martin Beck is hunting for a murderer. When a young woman's body is pulled from Sweden's picturesque Lake Vattern, Beck opens an investigation into the identities of both murderer and victim. Three months later, all Beck has is a name – Roseanna. As Beck's list of suspects gets shorter, his obsession with the murderer and his psychopathology begins to deepen . . .

The G File

by Håkan Nesser

Book cover for The G File

1987. Verlangan, a former cop turned private detective is hired by a woman to follow her husband Jaan 'G' Hennan. A few days later, his client is found dead at the bottom of an empty swimming pool.

Maardam Police, led by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, investigate the case. Van Veeteren has encountered Jaan 'G' Hennan before and knows only too well the man's dark capabilities. As more information emerges about G's shadowy past, the Chief Inspector becomes more desperate than ever to convict him. But G has a solid alibi – and no one else can be found in relation to the crime.

2002. Fifteen years have passed and the G File remains the one case former Chief Inspector Van Veeteren has never been able to solve. But when Verlangan's daughter reports the private detective missing, Van Veeteren returns to Maardam CID once more. For all Verlangan left behind was a cryptic note; and a telephone message in which he claimed to have finally discovered the proof of G's murderous past . . .

Discover all the books in the Van Veeteren series

The Midnight Witness

by Sara Blaedel

Book cover for The Midnight Witness

Louise Rick, a rookie homicide detective from Copenhagen, becomes entangled in a complex series of murder investigations. Assigned first to the strangling of a young woman in a park, she quickly becomes involved in another case, one that her best friend and journalist Camilla is extremely close to. Despite Louise trying to keep her friend away from the case, Camilla's never been one to miss out on a scoop – but has she gone too far this time?

Now an internationally bestselling series, Louise Rick's debut in The Midnight Witness launched Sara Blaedel's incredible career.