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What's behind the success of Nordic crime fiction?
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:56 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy -- and then the Swedish film adaptation, and THEN the American adaptation -- made Nordic crime fiction really popular. I've only read his books and sampled a few other writers, but I'm trying to figure out whether there's a special formula for Nordic crime novels. I thought it would be fun to list some of their most widespread characteristics. 

  • Nordic crime fiction is on the noir side (READ: bloody and gruesome)
  • The main character is hiding a deep emotional wound (Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole is a recovering alcoholic)
  • The style tends to be slightly more literary
  • The novels often touch on social problems: sexism, racism, etc. 
Okay, what else am I missing?


D J Lutz
Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014 6:08 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 130

For those of us in the US, the Nordic books invoke a small bit of the exotic since we know little about the area and its people. I think that draws people in to a certain extent. But then, the writers do a fine job of crafting a story with, at the base level, the same human emotions and problems we all experience. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an enjoyable read to me; plenty of facts to sift through in trying to solve the crime(s.) When it boils down, however, the motivation of the antagonists are lust and greed, something we can all understand.

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