If you're a fan of the film adaptations of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Snowman, I've got 15 creepy Scandinavian novels by women you need to add to your reading list, snabbt. These mystery and thriller novels will chill you down to the bone and leave you begging for more.
If there's one thing that Scandinavia does really, truly well, it's crime fiction. Commonly known as "Nordic noir," thriller novels set in northern European countries often focus on grisly murders and the flawed detectives who must solve them. I'm just focusing on authors from the three Scandinavian countries — Denmark, Norway, and Sweden — here, but readers looking for the full Nordic experience should check out novels from Icelandic and Finnish writers as well.
There is no better contrast to the Danish concept of hygge — a respect and desire for coziness and comfort that pervades Danish culture — than a good, Nordic noir novel. You can put on your cabin socks and wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket while you sip cocoa and read tales of murder and intrigue.
Check out the 15 creepy Scandinavian novels by women that I've picked out for you below:
'Rock, Paper, Scissors' by Naja Marie Aidt
When Thomas and Jenny sort through their estranged father's belongings after his death, Thomas discovers a hefty amount of cash hidden away in an old toaster. Naja Marie Aidt's debut novel follows Thomas as his life and relationships begin to fall apart in the wake of his father's death.
'The Dying Game' by Åsa Avdic
Set in a near-future world in which the Soviet Union never dissolved, Åsa Avdic's The Dying Game centers on Anna Francis, a government worker hired to observe a group of job candidates who have witnessed her — faked — death. But as other people on the island testing area begin to die, Anna Francis finds herself at risk of being murdered for real.
'April Witch' by Majgull Axelsson
A woman given up for adoption at birth explores what might have been in this harrowing novel from Swedish author Majgull Axelsson. Born with a physical disability that prevents her from walking and talking, Desirée uses her powers to see the world through the eyes of her birth mother's three foster daughters, each of whom will soon receive a letter than changes everything about their lives.
'The Midnight Witness' by Sara Blaedel
The first novel in a series, The Midnight Witness follows rookie homicide detective Louise Rick as she works to solve the murder of a journalist, who had connections to Louise's own best friend.
'Kallocain' by Karin Boye
Drawing on the history of the Third Reich and Soviet Russia, Karin Boye's Kallocain centers on a scientist, Leo Kall, who develops a drug that can detect seditious thoughts and behavior, even those of which the user is unaware.
'Wolf Winter' by Cecilia Ekbäck
Set in 18th-century Sweden, Cecilia Ekbäck's Wolf Winter takes readers on a chilling journey into the lives of a family of Finnish goat herders. When one of their neighbors is found brutally murdered in what the community is quick to write off as a wolf attack, wife and mother Maija begins to investigate what happened to the man's wife, while her daughter, Fredericka, wrestles with the allure of the mountain on which the death occurred.
'Eva's Eye' by Karin Fossum
Another series-starter, Karin Fossum's Eva's Eye follows Inspector Konrad Sejer as he attempts to solve two seemingly unconnected murders — a cold missing-persons case who finally washed ashore, and a sex worker killed just before the other victim's disappearance.
'The Unit' by Ninni Holmqvist
Perfect for fans of Never Let Me Go, Ninni Holmqvist's The Unit imagines a world in which unmarried, childless adults who pass middle age are allowed to live in the lap of luxury — at the expense of donating their organs, up to the point of death.
'1222' by Anne Holt
A locked-room mystery set in the middle of a Norwegian blizzard, Anne Holt's 1222 centers on Hanne Wilhelmsen, a retired detective tasked with solving the murder of a train passenger who took shelter from the storm in a local hotel.
'The Boy in the Suitcase' by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
When a Red Cross nurse named Nina recovers a suitcase from an old friend's locker, she doesn't expect to find a little boy, drugged but breathing, stuffed inside. After the shocking murder of her friend, Nina and the boy go on the run across Denmark, searching for the child's identity and trying to stay one step ahead of a killer who may be coming for them.
'The Ice Princess' by Camilla Läckberg
After returning to her hometown in the wake of her parents' deaths, Erica Falck discovers the body of her childhood friend, Alex, who has died by suicide. Joining forces with a local detective, Erica begins to dig into Alex's past, trying to find answers as to why a woman who appeared to have it all would kill herself.
'Sun Storm' by Åsa Larsson
In this award-winning Swedish novel, Rebecka returns to her hometown after her friend Sanna's brother is found murdered in the church he founded. Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to lean on, but Rebecka is more interested in figuring out who would want to kill her friend's family, and why.
'Purge' by Sofi Oksanen
Set in Estonia, this novel from Finnish author Sofi Oksanen centers on Aliide, a solitary woman who finds a young victim of sex trafficking in her yard. She isn't interested in becoming a mother figure to the girl, named Zara, but a photograph in the child's possession — signed "For Aliide, from her sister" — could change everything.
'The Bird Tribunal' by Agnes Ravatn
Allis leaves her career as a TV presenter to take a job working as a housekeeper in a fjord-side home. The owner of the home is a middle-aged and unfriendly man named Sigurd, whose wife is set to return soon from a trip. But as Sigurd grows erratically angry, Allis begins to fear for her safety in her new, isolated home.
'Amatka' by Karin Tidbeck
In this creepy sci-fi novel set in a dystopian otherworld, a government worker named Vanja travels to the titular farming commune to survey its residents, but soon finds herself confronting the dark secret lurking behind the supposedly inanimate objects in her life.