Contact Information
  • Librarian: Catherine Minter
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E960
  • Phone: (812) 855-1702
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 3/11/2011

Scandinavian Crime in IU Libraries

A Brief Introduction


The founders of the Scandinavian crime genre were arguably the Swedish duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (login to IUCAT to view this link and the others on this page), whose series of ten thrillers featuring the authentically flawed police inspector Martin Beck were first published between 1965 and 1975. Classic police procedurals, these are thoroughly believable and at the same time compelling crime novels.


Contemporary bestselling Swedish crime writers include Stieg Larsson, who did not live to see the international success of his ambitious 'Millennium' trilogy, and Henning Mankell, creator of the popular Kurt Wallander mysteries set in 1990s Ystad. Håkan Nesser's series of novels featuring Inspector Van Veeteren are bestsellers in the author's native Sweden, but have not yet all been translated into English. Among upcoming Swedish crime writers, mention should be made of Johan Theorin, whose haunting Nattfåk (The Darkest Room), winner of Sweden's Best Crime Novel Award in 2008, is at once a crime novel and family drama.


The novels of Karin Fossum, set in small rural communities in her native Norway, are mysteries with a strong psychological component which explore the motives behind crime. Staying in Norway, Jo Nesbø's bestselling novels featuring the hard-drinking detective Harry Hole are edgy thrillers distinguished by sophisticated plots.


Other Scandinavian writers of crime include Peter Høeg, author of the bestselling, if challenging, Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne (Smilla's Sense of Snow), and Liza Marklund, whose fast-paced thrillers have enjoyed immense popularity in Sweden.    


The writers mentioned in this sketch represent a selection only. To learn more about Scandinavian crime fiction, try exploring any of the links below. The Wells Library has recently acquired new translations of many Scandinavian crime novels, both classic and contemporary.


Selected Criticism


For secondary literature on crime fiction generally, try this IUCAT search: Detective and mystery stories -- History and criticism


There is as yet very little criticism on Scandinavian crime fiction specifically: Detective and mystery stories, Scandinavian; Scandinavian fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism. However, 2011 sees the publication of the first comprehensive study of this increasingly popular genre in English, Nestingen and Arvas's Scandinavian Crime Fiction (Cardiff: University of Wales Press; not yet published).


Selected Internet Resources


Scandinavian Crime Fiction in English

Website created by Barbara Fister of Gustavus Adolphus College, MN



last updated: 3/11/2011