Sky Atlantic’s TV drama Fortitude is back for a second series and we’re hooked already – but what is it about snowy, bleak, remote townships that is so appealing to crime fans?
For one, the landscape plays such a huge part in stories like this. There’s another force at work – the force of nature – and this is a force so strong it can almost feel supernatural. Both weather and wildlife can be savage, relentless and uncontrollable. It goes without saying that as readers the settings and situations the characters find themselves in can seem very alien to us, and we are inevitably drawn in by the allure of the unknown.
The sense of isolation and seclusion is also intriguing. Why have these characters chosen to live here? Why do they prefer the solitude? Are they preoccupied by something, or haunted by their past?
What’s more, when small communities are confronted with a serious crime on their doorstep, the characters must ask themselves whether this is the work of an insider or an outsider. Unaccustomed to outsiders, strangers are perceived as a threat – but if no outsider can be found, the solution is much more worrying: the crime is the work of someone inside the community, someone you know, someone with something terrible to hide.
If these are the things you love in your crime, then check out our list of Scandi crime books perfect for you.
9 must-read Scandi crime books for Fortitude fans:
Arctic Chill by Arlandur Indridason
Detective Erlendur is a character who would feel at home in Fortitude. He has a complex personality and a haunted past, having lost his brother in a snowstorm when he was a child. In Arctic Chill the murder of a young boy forces Erlendur to confront his own evils.
The Savage Altar by Asa Larsson
Asa Larsson’s first novel opens with a stunning description of the Aurora Borealis and continues with the stark contrast of a grisly murder. In the icy, remote landscape of Northern Sweden, Larsson skilfully weaves plot and characterisation to create a book you won’t be able to put down.
The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Elements of the supernatural can be seen in this story which recounts the tale of a ship that ran aground in Iceland with no one aboard. The intriguing mystery behind its appearance creates a suspense-filled, compelling read. What happened to those on board? Is the boat really cursed? And whose body has washed up further along the shore?
I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork
This is an exceptionally dark, atmospheric Nordic mystery that’s so well written you’d never guess it’s a debut. When the body of a young girl is found hanging from a tree, the only clue the police have is an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I’m travelling alone’.
Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
Theorin’s debut thriller is another with a sense of the supernatural in its pages, despite its chilling, earthly conclusion. Twenty years ago a child went missing in the fog and was never found. But then his shoe arrives in the post. The boy’s parents search for the truth, only to find that someone is not happy about their investigation. An enthralling, evocative mystery that will grip you from start to finish.
He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum
This Inspector Sejer mystery from ‘Norway’s Queen of Crime’ features all of Fossum’s superb plotting, fresh style and brilliant characterisation. A boy runs into his local police station claiming to have seen a brutally dismembered corpse. Errki Johrma, an escaped psychiatric patient and known town misfit, was spotted at the scene before he disappeared into the woods. All fingers of suspicion point to Errki – except one.
Roseanna by Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall
The hugely acclaimed Martin Beck books were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo. With such a strong sense of setting and completely believable characters, Roseanna is a brilliant novel of suspense and sadness.
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
Mankell’s use of suspense and characterisation drive this mystery, which is the first to feature Inspector Kurt Wallander. One frozen January morning at 5am, Wallander responds to what he believes is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath.
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Nesbo is without a doubt one of the best Scandi crime writers around, and he’s typically on form in The Redbreast. Fascinating, well-drawn characters and a solid plot combine to make an intense crime thriller you won’t be able to put down.
How many of these brilliant Scandi crime books have you read? Let us know in the comments below!