Hi and welcome to the first #Orentober #ScandiSaturday!
Like last year, 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.
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’m kicking 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. Later this month I’ll be telling you more about last year’s instalment, Fallen Angels, which I’m currently reading. Fallen Angels is actually the 8th Varg Veum, published originally in 1989. The next instalment will be Bitter Flowers, out in eBook in November with the paperback to follow next year.
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. I have the entire series on my TBR and I hope to get to them soon!
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. You can find my mini review of The Bird Tribunal here and my The Seven Doors review is here. You can also read an excerpt of the latter here.
Finnish author Antti Tuomainen has his own brand of Scandi Noir and should need no introduction! 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! I’ll be talking about his latest novel, The Rabbit Factor, later this month.
Thomas Enger is the author 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. Thomas Enger is also the author of Inborn (ICYMI).
Thomas Enger also co-writes the Blix and Ramm series with Jørn Lier Horst: Death Deserved (ICYMI) and Smoke Screen (ICYMI), another series I would highly recommend!
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 last year. Two earlier Oslo Detectives novels are also available from Orenda Books, as is The Courier, a standalone historical thriller and The Assistant, set in interbellum-Norway and the Norwegian prohibition era. 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!
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). Last year, Orenda Books published Betrayal, and this year, Cold as Hell, which is out now in eBook with the paperback to follow later this month. I’ll be telling you all about Cold as Hell next week!
The Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson features policeman Ari Thór Arason. They are police procedural meets cosy murder mystery. I’ll be talking about this series later this month.
Icelandic Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is one of the most recent additions to Casa Orenda. Her Forbidden Iceland series featuring Chief Investigating Officer Elma is one of my favourite ongoing series and I can’t wait for the next instalment! Her debut, The Creak on the Stairs, was impressive and the sequel, Girls Who Lie, proved that Eva is no one-hit-wonder.
Norwegian author Helga Flatland has two books published with Orenda Books: A Modern Family and One Last Time, which actually aren’t all that noir in the usual sense: there is no crime, no investigation, yet they are definitely noir in theme, so I’m adding it to the Scandi Noir list anyway.
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 Orenda series: 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!