What To Read After Stieg Larsson…

January 5, 2011

Perhaps you’ve already read the Millennium Trilogy or you’re in the middle of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and you’re wondering what to read next. You’re in luck! There are a handful of contenders in the Scandinavian crime guild who have produced excellent mysteries to keep us going.

For starters, set your sights on Henning Mankell and his Kurt Wallander series. Wallander, a Swedish police detective, enjoys ill health, a chronic lack of sleep and proper nutrition and lives primarily, it seems, on cigarettes, coffee and alcohol–and an occasional fry-up for breakfast at midnight. This makes for rather distant family relationships not to mention a distinctive lack of close confidants at work. If that weren’t enough, his Sweden almost never encounters any sunshine–not for SAD sufferers. But the murders he encounters are intricately plotted with well-drawn characters.

Next up is Hakan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren. Based in Stockholm, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is another world-weary character but he does enjoy a good meal unlike Wallander. Van Veeteren conducts intuitive investigations, believing he can perceive guilt or innocence in his suspects. An award-winning series in Sweden, these stories are a good combination of police procedural and psychological thriller.

Jo Nesbo is a more recent star on the international crime scene. His detective, Harry Hole, another tormented soul along the Wallander lines, (did we mention he’s a recovering alcoholic?) is on Oslo, Norway’s police force. Well-paced and suspenseful, with deftly woven plot lines, readers will enjoy the heroic, doggedly stubborn side of Hole as he negotiates assassination attempts, bank robberies, and of course, murders.

Karin Fossum, another award-winning author from Norway, gives us Inspector Konrad Sejer.  Less well-known than some of the others here, her police procedurals are top notch and deserve the growing audience she is garnering. Inspector Sejer is a shy, flawed character with a deep sense of compassion for the victims he encounters. There are currently eight Sejer mysteries in translation for the U.S. market with more on the way.

The Swedish writing team of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström had an outstanding success with Box 21 last year. This month they’re back again with the book that won the Swedish Crime Novel of the Year in 2009–Three Seconds. No series here, each book stars a different detective but all are suspenseful and intricately plotted thrillers.

As you can see, there are plenty of options. Others include Camilla Lackberg, Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, Liza Marklund, and Arnaldur Indridason.

Of course, when we finish with the Scandinavians, we can start in on the Russians…