Playlisted Chills: 7 Nordic Thrillers Giving Us Shivers This Summer When we're craving a respite from the summer's sweltering heat, we give ourselves goosebumps with mysteries and thrillers from our neighbors in the north. Think of them as our ... "ice picks." By Alexander Huls Jul 6, 2017 Come summertime — whether you’re lounging on a beach, sitting lakeside, or sunk into a lawn chair in your backyard — there’s nothing quite like getting lost in a crime thriller. And ever since Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made it big stateside, writers from Scandinavia, Finland, and Iceland — with their Ö’s and Ø’s — have become prime exports, translated and delivered to hands eager to read about gruesome crimes we can’t look away from. Nordic crime writing often excels at a variety of common elements that make for great page-turning thrillers: flawed top-of-their-game detectives, twisted serial killers, deft plotting, and a particular love of red herrings to leave readers guessing whodunit. Most of all, the best of Nordic crime fiction offer stories with the kind of momentum that leaves you listening for hours — often at the expense of a good night’s sleep or your skin left too long in the summer heat without sunscreen. Here are seven novels that should do just that. 01 The Snowman stop Principles By Jo Nesbø, Don Bartlett Narrated by Robin Sachs 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. If Nordic crime fiction has a ruler, it would be Jo Nesbø. Among his work, and specifically his series of novels featuring detective Harry Hole, The Snowman may be his best (an adaptation starring Michael Fassbender is being released this year). In it, Hole is hunting what may be Norway’s first ever serial killer, who likes to murder on the first day of snowfall and leave ominous snowmen nearby. Nesbø’s novels are marked by genuinely great prose and character building (think Michael Connelly or George Pelecanos), and The Snowman is no exception. But what’s most fun about the novel is the game Nesbø plays with the reader, always leaving them a step behind with his layered storytelling. It should be noted that the book is genuinely creepy — something only accentuated by the calm narration from Robin Sachs that steeps the reading in atmosphere. 02 The Forgotten Girls stop Principles By Sara Blaedel Narrated by Christine Lakin 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. From Denmark's “Queen of Crime,” this novel by Sarah Blaedel begins almost inconspicuously: In a forest, police discover the body of a woman who succumbed to injuries from a fall. But when detective Louise Rick puts out a call to ID the woman based on distinct burn scars on her face, a potentially more sinister story begins to reveal itself. While Blaedel doesn’t dabble in character development as much as some of her Nordic compatriots, she does illustrate the narrative leanness of a lot of Nordic crime fiction, so you probably won’t mind. The plot here is so streamlined you’ll find yourself propelled eagerly through the story, all the while curdling an uneasy apprehension that’ll sit in your gut as the novel barrels through its revelations. 03 I'm Traveling Alone stop Principles By Samuel Bjork Narrated by Laura Paton 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Norwegian Samuel Bjørk wastes no time with his novel. Within the first moments, a young girl is found hanging from a tree. She is dressed up like a doll and has a sign on her that reads “I’m traveling alone.” With that eerie image (and parental nightmare), the novel follows veteran detectives Holger Munch and his gifted (but suicidal) colleague, Mia Krueger, as they pursue a killer who enjoys playing "cat and mouse" and promises more victims to come. Bjørk has a particularly mischievous knack for introducing multiple perspectives and side stories (including one about a strange religious sect) to keep readers guessing where it will all go. That journey makes for a hell of a listen, thanks to the impressive range of tones and character voices narrator Laura Paton lends to the story; the life she brings to Holger and Mia are especially great. 04 Snowblind stop Principles By Ragnar Jónasson, Quentin Bates - translator Narrated by Will Damron 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson’s series with policemen Ari Thór Arason is called the “Dark Iceland Series,” so that should give you a clue about what you’re in for. Set in an isolated small fishing town in Iceland, Snowblind has an almost horror-like premise: When an avalanche cuts off the town, a killer begins to act. Alluring premise aside, what’s also great is that while a lot of Nordic crime fiction tends towards a breakneck pace, Jonasson isn’t afraid to slow down and devote time to tell the story of its characters and small town (and, of course, its hidden secrets). The narration from Will Damron will also make clear how effective Snowblind is at crafting an eerie atmosphere that may leave you as chilled as the characters in the winter weather. 05 1222: The Hanne Wilhelmsen Novels, Book 8 stop Principles By Anne Holt Narrated by Kate Reading 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Who doesn’t love a good Agatha Christie homage? 1222, from Norwegian author Anne Holt, is just that. You could even go so far as call its Christie-like setup “Murder Off the Nordic Express.” In the novel, a train is delayed by a snowstorm, and all the passengers — including the hero, a paralyzed detective named Hanne Wilhelmsen — have to make their way to a nearby hotel until the snow clears. The next morning someone is found dead, and detective Wilhelmsen has to try and solve the mystery as more bodies threaten to pile up. To be honest, if that old-school, tried-and-true premise isn’t enough to sell you, I’m not sure what will. 06 The Ice Beneath Her stop Principles By Camilla Grebe, Elizabeth Clark Wessel - translator Narrated by Katharine Lee McEwan, John Lee, Justine Eyre 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The Swedish author’s novel has a dramatic murder and premise: A beheaded woman is found in a suburban home, and the prime suspect — a CEO — is nowhere to be found. For crime lovers, the novel makes for a welcome mash-up of police procedural (via detectives Peter Lindgren and Manfred Olsson) and killer profiling (via the gifted, but broken Hanne Lagerlind-Schön). There’s even an amateur sleuth in the mix, a woman named Emma, who had an affair with the CEO and is looking for answers. The novel keeps things interesting with chapters that alternate between three of the characters, and even introduces a rare twist in crime fiction — an unreliable narrator in the form of one character wrestling with onset dementia. 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