Hi and welcome to the first #Orentober #ScandiSaturday!
The coming Saturdays, I will be highlighting and reviewing a selection of Orenda books of the Scandi Noir variety. In case you were wondering: Scandi Noir, or Nordic Noir, is a subgenre of crime fiction, set in a Nordic country, usually veering into police procedural fiction (or similar) and often rather bleak and quite harrowing. Every author in the genre has of course their own style, and I’ll be dissecting them (in the kindest and least painful manner possible) over the coming weeks.
I think people may be a little afraid to pick up translated literature because of the unfamiliar names. If that is the case, I highly recommend you choose the audio version. The strangeness and unfamiliarity of the names disappears when someone is pronouncing them for you. Also, like all things, Scandi literature is a matter of habit. Your brain gets used to it, you start to see patterns in the languages, it’s really quite fascinating, or maybe that’s just the translator in me speaking 😊 Today, I thought I’d kick off #ScandiSaturday with an overview of all the marvellous Nordic Noir Orenda Books have to offer.
Let us start with Gunnar Staalesen, considered one of the fathers of Scandi Noir and the spiritual father of Varg Veum, a private detective. The first Varg Veum novel was published as early as 1977 (Varg is older than I am!), and the first Veum to be published by Orenda Books was actually the 17th novel in the series. My Scandi advisor (why yes, I have a Scandi advisor, you mean you don’t?!) warned me that there’s a lot of history that the reader may miss, not having read the earlier books. While this is true, I got along with Varg right away, and I could follow the story without a hitch. Note that should you want to add twenty more books to your TBR, the older titles have been translated into English as well, but I started with the Orenda ones (translated by Don Bartlett). I’ll be telling you a bit more about a few Varg Veum titles later this month.
Kati Hiekkapelto’s Anna Fekete series centres around – you’ll never guess – Anna Fekete, who is a Finnish police investigator. This series consists of three books at the moment, the first one is available in English but not from Orenda Books, the other two have been translated for Orenda Books by David Hackston. The fourth instalment is forthcoming.
Norwegian author and columnist Agnes Ravatn has two books published by Orenda Books, both translated by Rosie Hedger. She has a unique writing style that I enjoy very much. My review of The Seven Doors will be up later this month. Click here for my mini review of The Bird Tribunal.
Finnish author Antti Tuomainen has his own brand of Scandi Noir and should need no introduction! Last year I had #TuomainenTuesday posts and Antti needs to hurry up and write more so I can continue dedicating my Tuesdays to him! Antti’s novels (translated by David Hackston) have veered from pitch black into darkly funny, and if you’re looking for a unique Scandi Noir, one to shake things up, I can’t recommend his books enough!
Thomas Enger – a.k.a. the Norwegian author known to reduce my Scandi advisor to a swoony mess – is the creator of the Henning Juul series. Juul is an investigative journalist who is also trying to work out something that devastated his own private life (yes I’m keeping that deliberately vague). This five-novel series is available in English, but only the last two are available from Orenda Books. In this case I would recommend starting at the beginning with Burned, since there is a continuing storyline throughout the series and you know, it is just that good. I will be telling you a little more about Henning Juul later this month. Thomas Enger is also the author of Inborn (ICYMI) and earlier this year, Orenda Books published Death Deserved, the first of a new series co-written with Jørn Lier Horst (ICYMI). The second instalment, Smoke Screen, will be out in December in eBook format.
Kjell Ola Dahl, another pillar of the Nordic Noir genre, is the author of the Oslo Detectives series, the most recent instalment of which (Sister, book no. 9) was published by Orenda Books earlier this year. Two earlier Oslo Detectives novels are also available from Orenda Books, as is The Courier, a standalone historical thriller (ICYMI). The previous Oslo Detectives novels are also available in English, I haven’t read them myself, I actually started with the 9th instalment and then went back to Faithless and The Ice Swimmer, which worked really well for me, so if you don’t want to start at the very beginning, don’t hesitate to just dive in at whatever book tickles your fancy! I will be telling you a little more about Faithless and The Ice Swimmer later this month.
Lilja Sigurdardóttir’s Reykjavik Noir series was one of my favourite series last year, and her protagonist Sonja one of my favourite characters. A mix of Breaking Bad and Narcos, Lilja wrote an intelligent trilogy that I won’t forget any time soon (ICYMI). This year, Orenda Books published Betrayal, a standalone thriller that I will be reviewing later this month.
The Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by Quentin Bates) features policeman Ari Thór Arason. The final instalment will be out in December in eBook format and in hardcover, and this is my cue to (finally) start this series!
Icelandic Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is one of the most recent additions to Casa Orenda. The Creak on the Stairs featuring Chief Investigating Officer Elma is her debut novel and I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment (ICYMI).
To date, Norwegian author Helga Flatland has one book published with Orenda Books: A Modern Family, which actually isn’t all that noir in the usual sense: there is no crime, no investigation, yet it is definitely noir in theme, so I’m adding it to the Scandi Noir list anyway (ICYMI). Also, any excuse to feature this magnificent cover again will do 😊
Technically and if we’re splitting hairs, this one is not Scandi Noir, but since it’s partly set in Sweden, I wanted to give a shout-out to one of my favourite series last year: the Roy and Castells series by Johana Gustawsson.
If you made it all the way down here, thanks for sticking by me! Are you a Scandi Noir fan? Let me know below!