Ever since I read Stieg Larsson's wonderful trilogy, I've discovered more authors from that chilly section of the globe. Perhaps it's because of the long winters that force them indoors, or just that the Scandinavian publishing industry has decided to follow on the coattails of Larsson's amazing success, but whatever the reason and lucky for us, intelligent and intricate Scandinavian mysteries have reached our shores in abundance. Jo Nesbo of Norway, the writing duo of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom from Sweden, as well as Arnaldur Indridson of Iceland have all produced solid and enjoyable mysteries and thrillers that have been translated for the English-speaking market.
There's a fascinating article written by Wendy Lesser for SLATE (the online current affairs and culture magazine) which was posted in 2011, entitled: NORWEGIAN MOOD, What Makes Jo Nesbo's Books so Addictive. Nesbo is another favorite author of mine, having written THE REDBREAST andTHE SNOWMAN, among others. Nesbo's books are, in a word, terrific!
I agree with Ms. Lesser's points about the intricate and satisfying mysteries coming out of Scandinavia and translated into English. I agree that they are on average better than most other mysteries. And yes, like many people, I was blown away by Stieg Larsson's trilogy. But not all great mystery writers are from the Scandinavian countries. In defense of some of my favorite mystery writers, I'd have to include books by the following authors, with a proven track record of at least three books, as being in the same intensely satisfying category: Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon of Italy (who was born and raised in the U.S.), Cara Black, R.J. Ellory, Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos of America, just to name a few.
But this is not a global competition. Any time an author writes an intelligent mystery, no matter what country he or she is from, as readers, we all win! If you get a chance, please post a comment with your favorite mystery author's name. I'm always looking for new books to read.