Bad Apples: Swedish evil

If you think Halloween can be creepy, wait until you see how this small town in the Swedish hinterland celebrates the coming of winter. The roads are closed. A stack of apples are left to rot in the town square, filling the air with a sickly-sweet stench of decay. What follows is a wild night…

The Jealousy Man: a complicated compilation

A collection of short stories and novellas from one of the best Scandi writers around? Count me in. I think I actually drooled at the idea of an anthology of self-contained tales from the dark side by the author who gave us the Harry Hole series and superb standalone novels like the ridiculously brilliant Headhunters.…

The Girl Who Died: off-kilter in Iceland

Ragnar Jónasson is one of my favourite authors, a master at capturing the unique Icelandic environment and drawing it into the narrative of some of the best character-led stories I’ve read. He’s superbly skilled at reflecting the bleakly beautiful aspects of Iceland’s landscape in the tangled threads of his compelling – frequently chilling – mysteries.…

Annika Stranded: bite-size Scandi crime

This top-quality series of short crime dramas started life as 15-minute audio episodes, starring the excellent actor Nicola Walker as Annika herself, a quirky, quick-witted Norwegian detective on the Oslo boat patrol. The series is now being filmed for TV, translated not just in format but also in location as it’ll now be based in…

Cardinal: awarding-winning TV crime

Cardinal is set in snowy small-town Canada, and has all the edge and atmosphere of the best Nordic noir. Bleakly beautiful photography; poignant, subtle performances from a pair of superb leading actors. It’s truly mesermising crime TV drama – so it’s no wonder that the final season has been nominated for a slew of international…

Where Ravens Roost

When animals appear in a book’s title they are frequently more metaphorical than physical, but these menacing black beasts play an important part of the story in this character-driven slow-burn Swedish mystery. These ravens are pets – of a kind – kept by the father of police detective Kjeld Nygaard. Their apparently aggressive inclinations, savagely…

Best Crime Books 2020

As a new year begins we love looking back on the highlights of the past twelve months, the very best crime-thrillers and murder-mysteries which we read in 2020. These books include hardboiled American noir, skin-crawling Scandi crime, a superb Cold War spy story, culture shock in the Arabian desert, hard-hitting Brit grit and utterly immersive…

Lazarus: doubly deadly and back from the dead…

It’s the old battle of wits between a discredited investigator and his ultimate enemy: an intelligent, ruthless and unpredictable sociopath who doesn’t stop at mere murder. Instead he destroys his victim’s lives: literally buries their loved ones and watches with clinical fascination as his opponents attempt to out-manoeuvre him. It’s hard to imagine that anyone…

The Inner Darkness: a manhunt mystery

The Wisting series of Scandi crime stories have become as comfortable as a snuggly sofa next to a roaring fire on a chilly winter afternoon. Although the cover blurb does its best to sell this carefully constructed mystery as a ‘pulse-pounding thriller’ it has far more in common with Wallander or Varg Veum than Harry…

The Kingdom: blood (soaked) brothers

A standalone Scandi thriller from accomplished author Jo Nesbø is normally something to be savoured. His earlier Headhunters is one of my all-time favourite crime novels, so I had high hopes for this new tale of Norwegian intrigue. And in many ways it’s every bit as carefully crafted as you’d expect – yet I struggled…