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Danish mystery series

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoag (Farrar, 1993) was a sensation when it was published in the U.S.  Its strong female protagonist, Smilla Jaspersen–half Danish, half Greenlander—charmed readers.  It was most likely the first Danish mystery that Americans read.  Unfortunately Hoag never wrote a sequel.  But several new mystery series by Danish authors have begun to appear lately.  Here are a few.

Adler-Olsen, Jussi

Detective Carl Mørck works in Department Q, the basement room where very cold cases come to rest.  Mørck had been one of Copenhagen’s best detectives until a bullet nearly killed him in a shooting that took the life of his two colleagues.  Now he and the others who eventually come to assist him patter about in his basement office and lead a quiet life.  But when a case captures his interest, Mørck can be surprisingly effective.  The odd characters and sometimes hilarious dialog make these lighter, but no less suspenseful than the typical dour Scandinavian crime novel.  The Carl Mørck series began in 2007.  Best-selling Adler-Olsen won the prestigious Glass Key award in 2010.  The Alphabet House (Dutton, 2015) is a stand-alone WW I thriller.

1.  The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011).  (British title: Mercy)

2. The Absent One (2012)  (British title:  Disgrace)

3.  A Conspiracy of Faith (2013)

4.  The Purity of Vengeance (2013)

5.  The Marco Effect (2014)

Blædel, Sara

Sara Blaedel worked as a journalist and television producer before founding the first dedicated crime fiction publishing house (called Sara B) in Denmark. This inspired her to start writing her own series of detective novels, which regularly hit the top of the Danish bestseller lists.  Her series features Detective Louise Rick of the Copenhagen Police Department.  She works on homicides and has had special FBI training.  She lives alone, but is quite close to her journalist friend Camilla Lind and often babysits for Camilla’s young son.  The first novel in the series, Green Dust, has not been translated into English.  So technically the titles below are numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Danish.  Apparently there are several later titles that have not yet been translated into English.

1.  Call Me Princess (US 2011)

2.  Only One Life (US 2012)

3.  Farewell to Freedom (US 2012)

4.  The Forgotten Girls   (US 2015)

Egholm, Elsebeth

After a career as a pianist and piano instructor Egholm published her first novel in 1999 and in 2002 began the series featuring Benedicte Svendsen, a journalist sleuth.  Unfortunately none of the six books in the series has been translated into English.  Three Dog Night, published in 2013,  is available in paperback from Headline and as a Kindle ebook) is the first volume in a new series that stars Benedicte Svendsen’s adopted son, Peter Boutrup.

Kaaberbol, Lene and Agnete Friis

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the newcomers to the Danish mystery scene.  Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of 15.  Both authors have written books for children.   The Boy in the Suitcase (Soho, 2011) introduced series character Nina Borg, a nurse who works for the Danish Red Cross in Copenhagen.  Her first case is a dark thriller that became a best-seller in the U. S.  The second book didn’t fare as well, but many readers will welcome more novels starring the engaging Nina.

1.  The Boy in the Suitcase (2011)

2.  Invisible Murders (2012)

3.  Death of a Nightingale (2013)

–post revised  3/22/2015


Posted March/22/2013

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