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…

Dregs: another Scandi detective

William Wisting is the latest Norwegian detective to appear on our TV screens, and if you enjoy this style of calculated and complicated investigation then there’s a series of six books to look forward to. The first, Dregs, is very much cut from the same cloth as Wallander or Beck: this is Scandi crime and…

The Courier: mainly history, not so thrilling

If you rate a book by its historical context, social insight and technical accomplishment then this Scandinavian story would be a full-on five-star phenomenon. It’s a consummate construction of complex timelines set in WW2 in Norway, the mid-1960s in Sweden, and the 21st century. A cold-blooded killing committed in the past can only be solved…

Wolves In The Dark: a hunted man

This Norwegian investigation started off brilliantly. Private eye Varg Veum is ensnared in a savage trap, one sprung by his own degeneracy. During a period of emotional turmoil, Veum descended into the broke and barely-functioning chaos of an alcoholic binge which lasted several years. Now in recovery, with the promise of a stable relationship on…

Varg Veum: a wolf comes a-calling

In an extended moment of muppetry, I avoided reading Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series for decades. Every time a new episode featuring the Norwegian private detective arrived, my vision was averted. I looked the other way, put off by back-cover blurbs which compared the books to Henning Mankell, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. That old…

Classic Crime: The Iron Chariot

This is a brand-new translation of a Norwegian novel that’s more than 100 years old – so don’t pick it up expecting cutting-edge Scandi crime or the bleak brutality of Nordic noir. Instead The Iron Chariot offers a nostalgic interlude in the golden age of the private detective. Puzzle-solver and independent investigator Asbjørn Krag is…

We Die Alone: Nordic grit

This true-life story of human endurance is genuinely gripping, a factual account written with the requisite polish and panache to make it as riveting as any fictionalised adventure tale, yet every chapter rings with the echo of authenticity. It’s every bit as grim and as gritty as any noir novel, but does ultimate justice to…

Still Waters: more domestic drama than murder mystery

This squeaky-clean investigation falls solidly at the IKEA end of the Scandinavian spectrum; crisp, sun-bright and efficient, packed with affirmative action, a healthy work-life balance and all the grit and gravitas of a Ski yoghurt advert. There are some dead bodies; an implausible number of them in fact, given the holiday island seaside location and…