Eighteen Below: a twist at every turn

Although it’s set in Sweden, this ripping thriller has more in common with mainstream American crime-fiction than the typical thoughtful, slow-burn Scandi crime. It’s all about the action and less about atmosphere – a fast-paced ensemble investigation, not a moody, windswept sonnet to the isolated solitude of the Nordic spirit. It’s certainly a lot more…

The Wolf And The Watchman: a Scandi stunner

Historical crime fiction novels typically lean towards the gentler end of the murder / mystery / suspense spectrum. Not this one. It is every bit as grim and grisly as a contemporary noir novel, and reveals characters as morally corrupt and callously cruel as any modern serial-killer thriller. But there’s much more to this gory…

Red Snow: a complex chiller

Like the very best Nordic noir, Red Snow conveys an eerie sense of place, of the suffocating claustrophobia endured by the inhabitants of a small Swedish town in frozen February. And like the very best crime fiction, the story in Red Snow centres on a remarkable protagonist, a touchstone for her time. Tuva Moodyson is…

Dark Pines: Nordic noir for the newcomer

Traditional Nordic noir isn’t to everyone’s tastes. It can be oblique as well as beautiful, taking subtle understatement to the brink of a stilted stall. The bitter chill of a Scandinavian winter can be brittle and unwelcoming – not only to the characters, but to a new reader who might struggle to engage with the…

Watching You: a masterclass of misdirection

In Watching You, one of the Nordic nations’ premier crime writers delivers a masterclass of misdirection and suspense. Arne Dahl – or Jan Arnald, if you prefer his other pen-name – kicks off what appears to be a standard Scandi crime police procedural with a stand-out, set piece action sequence which simultaneously curls your toes…

Wallander: Branagh’s farewell

This final set of three 90 minutes films are the hardest of the English-language interpretation to appreciate. Kurt Wallander has been brought to the screen by three different actors. If you prefer either of the Scandinavian versions to Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of the Swedish detective then you definitely won’t enjoy this one. If, however, you’re a fan…

Stockholm Noir: Sweden’s sleazy side

  Forget the superficially shiny side of Scandi crime and the clean-cut appearance of IKEA Sweden. This high-class anthology set in Sweden’s capital city exposes the queasy realities of social inequality, soul-diminishing isolation, bigotry and brutality in thirteen separate stories that offer an unflinchingly grim picture of the Scandinavian urban environment. This is midnight noir…

The Beige Man: solid Swedish procedural

This is part of the ongoing Inspector Irene Huss series, but there’s no need to have read any others in the series if this is your first Helene Tursten novel. The scenario is comfortably familiar: a competent, middle-ranking detective in Göteborg, Sweden’s second city, stretches her investigative skills as part of the CID team while…

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…