Check It Out: Scandinavian suspense novels await you

Now that you've read Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, what's next? "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and the two books in the series that followed were worldwide blockbusters that left readers craving more books just like them. These three books, however, are just the tip of the Scandinavian iceberg of suspense and mystery books written by Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian authors unfamiliar to American readers.

K.O. Dahl (Norway): Kjell Ola Dahl has been a bestselling author in his home country for years. With the publication of "The Fourth Man," readers in the United States were able to read this master of the mystery thriller. Merging the suspense of the classical whodunit with the precision of the police procedural, the investigations of Det. Frank Frolich and Det. Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda deal with love and betrayal, and loyalty and guilt.

Peter Hoeg (Denmark): "Smilla's Sense of Snow" was selected as a "Best Book of the Year" by Time Magazine in 1990. With a plot involving a conspiracy, spare prose and an eccentric and strong heroine, one might say this book foreshadowed some elements of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Camilla Lackberg (Sweden): The first of Camilla Lackberg's seven novels set in a Swedish coastal town, "The Ice Princess," has been a No. 1 best seller in Sweden. It tells the story of Erica, a writer, who is dealing with grief over her parents' untimely death as well as her ambivalent feelings about returning to her hometown. A murder has recently occurred there, and Erica becomes involved in unburying the mystery surrounding the town and its secrets.

Henning Mankell (Sweden): Perhaps the most well known of all Scandinavian mystery writers, the U.S. publication of the first Kurt Wallender book, "Faceless Killers," was published in 1996. Inspector Kurt Wallender is the best-known of Mankell's crime fighters, but the author has also written many more standalone thrillers, including the recently published, "The Man from Beijing."

Liz Marklund (Sweden): Known in the United States for her collaboration with James Patterson on "The Postcard Killers," Marklund is a most successful crime writer in her native Sweden. Her novels feature Annika Bengtzon, a spunky reporter, and her books have sold millions of copies internationally. "Red Wolf," to be released in the United States in February, is the latest in this series.

Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Sweden): Classics by today's standards, these books were written by this husband and wife team between 1965 and 1975 and feature Detective Inspector Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad. From the first, "Roseanna," to the most well-known, "The Laughing Policeman," this series changed the genre forever.

James Thompson (Finland): Although he is an American, James Thompson has lived in Finland for more than a decade and introduces his protagonist, Kari Vaara, in a new series, "Snow Angels." In a land where darkness can be unrelenting and cold equally numbing, this novel, which takes place within the Arctic Circle, tells the story of beautiful woman found dead in the snow. Inspector Vaara must discover who is responsible for the crime in this silent, frozen wasteland.

The Newport Beach Public Library has these and many other Scandinavian authors for your reading enjoyment. Sit back and enjoy the pleasant California sunshine while reading about the cold, frozen countries depicted in these thrillers and mysteries.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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