A great way to learn about your new city is to read a few novels about city life. The most famous Swedish novels are by the crime authors Stieg Larsson, John Ajvide Lindqvist and Henning Mankell. I highly recommend the works of these authors. Here’s the first part of our Swedish book recommendation list.
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Our Favorite Swedish Novels
Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Book Description: Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
Book Description: As with Larsson’s earlier book, this is highly compelling fare, with tautly orchestrated suspense; it’s often grisly and uncompromising (not a problem for many readers), and the massive text may be longer than is good for it, but Larsson admirers won’t begrudge the late author a word,and will be impatient for the third (and, regrettably, concluding) book in the sequence. –Barry Forshaw
Book Description: This is the high-tension opening premise of the third book in Stieg Larsson’s phenomenally successful trilogy of crime novels which the late author (a crusading journalist) delivered to his publisher just before his death. But does it match up to its two electrifying predecessors, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire? The success of Larsson’s remarkable sequence of books is, to some degree, unprecedented. Crime fiction in translation has, of course, made a mark before (notably with Peter Hoeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, published, in fact, by Larsson’s British publisher, Christopher MacLehose). But even the success of that book gave no hint of the juggernauts that the Salander books would be (the late author’s secondary hero is the journalist Blomqvist.
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Review: A whiff of the new Stephen King. Don’t miss it – The Times. A terrifying supernatural story yet also a moving account of friendship and salvation – Guardian. Some truly scary bits will haunt your dreams. Best read by sunlight – Independent on Sunday. Lindqvist has reinvented the vampire novel and made it all the more chilling by setting it in the kind of sink estate we all know from the media. Immensely readable and highly disturbing – Daily Express.
Inspector Wallander Mystery Series
Kurt Wallander is a fictional police inspector living and working in Ystad, Sweden. In the novels, he solves shocking murders with his colleagues. The novels have an underlying question: “What went wrong with Swedish society?”The series has won many awards, including the German Crime Prize and the British 2001 CWA Gold Digger for Sidetracked. The ninth book, The Pyramid, is a prequel: a collection of five novellas (Wallander’s First Case, The Man with the Mask, The Man on the Beach, The Death of the Photographer, The Pyramid) about Wallander’s past, with the last one ending just before the start of Faceless Killers. Ten years after The Pyramid, Mankell published another Wallander novel, The Troubled Man, which he said would definitely be the last in the series.
Faceless Killers: An Inspector Wallander Mystery
Faceless Killers is the first of the acclaimed Wallander novels. Set in January 1990, in a frozen landscape and against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Europe, this is a bleak novel that deals with the thorny issues of immigration and racial hatred. Wallander investigates a brutal double murder at a remote farmhouse in which the only possible clues are the whispered words of a dying woman and a freshly fed horse. When this limited evidence and its implications leak to the press it stirs right wing activists into action.
At times Wallander seems too much like the traditional hard-drinking, hard-living, hard-boiled detective of old, but he is more than that. He is a truth seeker, trying to make sense of his rapidly changing world, his method happens to be detective work, and it is this search that lies at the philosophical heart of the novel. –Iain Robinson
The Dogs of Riga, 2001
Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead.
The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander’s obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light.