The Chestnut Man: The Killing continues…

If a single book sums up the typical Nordic noir serial-killer-thriller then it’s this one. It sticks rigidly to the formula which has made Scandi crime so successful; grisly murders, political intrigue, multiple cliff-hangers, and investigative threads which appear entirely convincing in one chapter, only to be discarded in the next as another red herring…

The Sword Of Justice: a slice of Swedish ‘super-salami’

Superintendent Evart Bäckström is one of Scandi crime’s outstanding creations. He’s an utterly loathsome creature; lazy, corrupt, bigoted and entirely self-centred. Yet his sly intelligence and his ability to manipulate any situation to suit himself mean that he has an impressive case clearance rate and a public persona to match his inflated self-image. Bäckström 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…

Rellik: criminally brilliant

This is the crime drama of the year for me, and the BBC deserve considerable kudos for bringing a concept this challenging to our screens. It proves that intelligent and gripping thrillers aren’t the sole preserve of ScandiLand, and Rellik is every bit as good as the best Nordic noir. The six-part drama isn’t just…

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…

The Disappearance: compelling Eurocrime

A teenage girl goes missing on midsummer night, after a festival. As it becomes obvious that she’s not coming home, and the police investigation moves from initial disinterest to a potential murder hunt, so it’s revealed that Lea was a young woman with many secrets. And she’s not the only one: just about everyone in…

Victim Without A Face: making a commercial killing

This notionally Nordic noir / Scandi crime novel will go down a storm with the mainstream thriller audience. The blurb compares it to ‘Henning Mankell at his best’… which is total baloney. Mankell wrote carefully considered police procedurals which use credible criminal investigations to explore sombre truths about conflicts in modern liberal societies. Fabian Risk…