Solving murder mysteries this Easter...

Along with Easter eggs and skiing, a third Norwegian tradition over this holiday is, believe it or not, crime! No, the Norwegians don’t run around robbing strangers or break into their neighbours’ houses, but they do love to watch a bit of a murder mystery on TV or read the latest crime fiction.

It’s been a long tradition for Norwegians to wrap up warm in the sofa after a long day of skiing to watch the annual crime series on TV which normally run on the major networks over a few nights during the Easter week. The series are the talk of the town and keep viewers on the edge of their seats each night, and come Easter Monday the murders have been solved and the holiday is over.

As if the blood-shed on TV wasn’t enough, Norwegians also love reading crime fiction over the holiday period. Old books get their revival and new crime fiction novels shoot to the top of the best-seller charts. If you want a piece of this peculiar Norwegian tradition, there are plenty of crime fiction novels by Norwegian authors available in book stores near you, including:

Pernille Rygg

The psychologist Igi Heitmann is being persecuted. Someone sprays her name on the wall of her house in Oslo, calling her a murderer. Still, she goes with her friend Bella to a spectacular art exhibition by the outrageous visual artist Aske. Outside the gallery, anti-pornography demonstrators are shouting their protests, while Aske himself arrives by helicopter. Benny, Igi’s husband, also turns up with their daughter, Ida, let down by the babysitter. Some shocking events follow quickly. Ida finds herself behind a locked door, and one of the wide-screens inside the gallery shows a murder.

Kjersti Sceen

The actress Rakel Winkelmann disappears without trace. Her friend, private eye Margaret Moss, follows the trail of clues to Bergen, Ustaoset and back to Oslo. Margaret uncovers an intriguing plot with roots in the theatre and in real life, where Rakel is one of the pawns.

Anne Holt
Little, Brown Book Group

Nine-year old Emilie disappears on her way back from school. Six days later, little Kim is kidnapped. He soon reappears – dead, and with a note attached to his body: “You had it coming!” Inger Johanne Vik, scientist and the mother of young children herself, is shocked by the news, just like the rest of Norway. When Chief Inspector Stubø asks her to help solve the case, she refuses, despite being a lawyer and psychologist with past connections with the FBI. Inger Johanne is tied up with her own life. She is looking into a child murder case from 1956, where the perpetrator was caught, sentenced, and then released early under unexplained circumstances. This case demands all her attention. But then, yet another child disappears on the No. 20 bus in Oslo. Inger Johanne’s expert understanding of the criminal mind now forces her to take a stand. Fate and coincidence cause these two cases to become intertwined, leading to a new, surprising picture.

Jo Nesbø
Harvill, Secker

A woman is found dead, one of her fingers cut off. Then a woman goes missing, and when one of her fingers turns up at the police station, it is suspected that a serial killer is out there. Yet another woman is found killed, again with a finger missing. Harry detects a pattern in the killings. Will it be possible to predict when and where the next murder will take place? This is the fifth book about Harry Hole.

Jo Nesbø
Harvill, Secker

Harry Hole accidentally shoots an American Secret Service agent during President Clinton’s visit to Norway. The matter is hushed up and Harry is transferred to the police Special Branch. A fax comes in about a group of weapons dealers under investigation in Johannesburg which reveals that an assassin’s rifle has turned up in Oslo. Harry is put on the case and together with his earlier partner, the eccentric ornithologist Ellen Gjelten, discovers clues pointing to the Norwegian East Front fighters, Neo-Nazi circles and a contact code-named Prince who seems to have contacts inside these circles. While the snow melts away in the streets of Oslo, gradually revealing the story behind it all, a murderer with a very special project has prepared the stage for his last performance. The third book about Harry Hole.

Karin Fossum
Harvill Press

In the small village of Elvestad, Konrad Sejer and his assistant Skarre are confronted with the body of a woman with horrendous injuries. The day before, the sober-minded bachelor Gunder Joman has been awaiting the arrival of his new wife, Poona, from Mumbai. He was going to pick her up from the airport but as his only sister, Marie, was involved in a traffic accident and is in hospital in a coma, he sends the local taxi driver instead. But Poona never turns up, either at the airport or at Joman’s home.

Karin Fossum
Harvill Press

Errki behaves in strange ways which are due to internal voices. One day old Halldis Horn is found dead on the stairs of her smallholding, and Errki has been seen at the same place. Inspector  Konrad Sejer gets to work on the case, only to be interrupted by another case the very next day. A young man holds up the local bank, threatening to take a customer hostage. It soon becomes clear that these two cases are connected.

Karin Fossum
Harvill Press

Irma Funder is 60 years old, unattractive and unloved and lonely. She lives her quiet, regular life without harming anyone, until one day when her brittle façade is shattered by the beautiful 18-year-old Andreas and his mate Zipp. Andreas makes the blunder of his life when he breaks into Irma’s home. Zipp keeps waiting outside, but Andreas never comes out again.  Chief Inspector Konrad Sejer and his assistant Jacob Skarre is once more faced with some challenges where there are many questions but few answers.

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Make sure you read Norwegian crime fiction this Easter...

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