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Murder, Morality, and Mysticism: Nordic Noir To Sink Your Teeth Into

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We don’t blame you if you haven’t come across this genre before. “Nordic Noir,” a genre of Scandinavian crime novels, has been growing in popularity since the release of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in 2005, and continues to enchant readers with its bleak landscapes and brooding characters. Protagonists are often multi-faceted, hubristic, and far from heroic, plotlines propagate labyrinthine moral quandaries, and endings leave you begging for more. Ultimately, Nordic Noir focuses on the human condition, eschewing western poeticism and metaphor for a more prosaic, visceral, and humanistic approach to some of life’s greatest moral and emotional enigmas. If gruesome murders, psychological thrillers, and macabre mysteries are your thing, stay right where you are: you will thank us later.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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Inspired by the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last recorded execution in Iceland, Burial Rites follows the story of three suspects wanted for the brutal murder of misanthropist and doctor Natan Ketilson. “Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?”

Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

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After the body of a young German student is discovered, his eyes gouged out and satanic symbols carved into his chest, female attorney Thóra Guðmundsdóttir is hired to investigate. If you’re interested in Iceland’s grisly history of torture and execution, witch hunts, or museums filled with the skin of old corpses, this is the book for you.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

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When a three-year old Lithuanian boy is kidnapped, his single mother tries desperately to find him. Meanwhile, in Denmark, a nurse named Nina Borg finds a young child, drugged and naked, in a suitcase. Seriously…what would you do?

Into the Labyrinth by Sigge Eklund

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Into The Labyrinth follows 4 protagonists as they struggle to understand the fate of Magda, a missing eleven-year-old girl. Each protagonist is equally dislikable, with relatable histories, feelings, and motivations that only add to the palpable mystery of the novel. A convoluted yet clever mystery that keeps you guessing, even after finishing the book.

The Ice Cream Man by Katri Lipson

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“Two years after the end of World War II, a director sets out to mimic real life by creating a film without a script, where the actors learn the story and their part in it as they go. The tale unfolds of a young couple on the run during the Nazi occupation, but soon the characters they play begin to take on lives of their own.” A thought-provoking look at life and the human condition following WW1; nothing at all like the work of Tommy Wiseau.

The Second Deadly Sin by Åsa Larsson

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If you’ve ever seen Se7en, we promise you will love this book. A bear with a penchant for human flesh, a savage brainwashing, and the brutal murder of a social outcast…what more could you ask for?

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund

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We’ve saved the best until last; consistently rated 5/5, Erik Axl Sund’s The Crow Girl is a force to be reckoned with. Described as “grotesque,” “dark,” and “disturbing,” The Crow Girl is a macabre, violent blow to the feels. We don’t need to say any more. Just go read it. Now.

Featured image by Rachael Carr

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About The Author

Chemist by day, alchemist by night, this little redhead gained her Master's degree in Pharmacy by way of witchcraft and strong coffee. Classic literature savant, death enthusiast, avid tea drinker and mother of rabbits, hailing from ye olde Albion. Follow her on Instagram at @x_exmachina_x

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