Scandinavian Crime Best Seller List – February 9, 2012

Thanks to a tattooed, adventurous , bisexual computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander, Scandinavian crime fiction is now one of the most popular categories among mystery readers around the world. So far Noir-flavored books from Scandinavia have sold more than 6 million copies in the United States and 35 million copies worldwide and have become a publishing phenomenon.

Given the increasing interest in the Nordic works of crime fiction, Mystery Tribune has started to release the list of Best Sellers in this category, based on the sales data in the United States. The list is updated on a weekly basis and separate Top 5 lists are also provides for titles from Denamrk, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. For viewing the individual country lists, please click here.

#1 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (Vintage).

In the third volume of the Millennium series, Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition in a Swedish hospital, a bullet in her head.

But she’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she’ll need to identify those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she’ll seek revenge–against the man who tried to killer her and against the corrupt government institutions that nearly destroyed her life.

#2 The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Vintage).

Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing exposé on social injustice, this second book in the Millennium series is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel.

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

#3 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Vintage).

Murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue combine into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel, the first in Stieg Larsson’s thrilling Millenium series featuring Lisbeth Salander.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

#4 The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø (Harper Collins).

No disrespect meant to Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, but Jo Nesbø, the New York Times bestselling author of The Snowman, is the most exciting Scandinavian thriller writer in the crime fiction business. The Redbreast is a fabulous introduction to Nesbø’s tough-as-nails series protagonist, Oslo police detective Harry Hole.

A brilliant and epic novel, breathtaking in its scope and design—winner of The Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel and selected as the best Norwegian crime novel ever written by members of Norway’s book clubs—The Redbreast is a chilling tale of murder and betrayal that ranges from the battlefields of World War Two to the streets of modern-day Oslo.

Follow Hole as he races to stop a killer and disarm a ticking time-bomb from his nation’s shadowy past. Vogue magazine says that “nobody can delve into the dark, twisted mind of a murderer better than a Scandinavian thriller writer”…and nobody does it better than Jo Nesbø! James Patterson fans should also take note.

#5 The Leopard by Jo Nesbø (Knopf Publishing Group).

Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong, escaping the trauma of his last case in squalid opium dens, when two young women are found dead in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches a fever pitch. There are no clues, the police investigation is stalled, and Harry—the one man who might be able to help—can’t be found.

After he returns to Oslo, the killer strikes again, Harry’s instincts take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation, though there is little to go on. Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.

#6 The Snowman by Jo Nesbø (Knopf Publishing Group).

One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow.

But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity.

#7 The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø (Harper Collins).

From one of the most celebrated crime writers in Europe and the award-winning author of The Redbreast comes an epic thriller featuring Police Detective Harry Hole. In the vein of the crime novels of James Patterson and Dennis Lehane, Jo Nesbo’s The Devil’s Star is an intricately plotted and suspenseful thrill-ride from beginning to end.

#8 Nemesis by Jo Nesbø (Harper Collins).

The #1 international bestseller from one of the most celebrated crime writers in Europe–the New York Times bestselling author of The Snowman–Jo Nesbø’s extraordinary thriller Nemesis features Norwegian homicide detective Harry Hole, “the next in the long line of great noir crime detectives,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) in a case as dark and chilling as an Oslo winter’s night.

The second Harry Hole novel to be released in America—following the critically acclaimed publication of The Redbird—Nemesis is a superb and surprising nail-biter that places Jo Nesbø in the company of Lawrence Block, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, and other top masters of crime fiction.

#9 The Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol (Soho Crime).

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can’t say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy’s are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

#10 Headhunters by Jo Nesbø (Vintage).

Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft.

But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.

#11 The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

#12 1222: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel by Anne Holt (Scribner).

A train is on its way to the northern reaches of Norway derails during a massive blizzard, 1,222 meters above sea level. The passengers abandon the train for a nearby hotel, centuries-old and practically empty, except for the staff. With plenty of food and shelter from the storm, the passengers think they are safe, until one of them is found dead the next morning.

With no sign of rescue, and the storm continuing to rage, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. Paralysed by a bullet lodged in her spine, Hanne has no desire to get involved. But she is slowly coaxed back into her old habits as her curiosity and natural talent for observation force her to take an interest in the passengers and their secrets. When another body turns up, Hanne realizes that time is running out, and she must act fast before panic takes over. Complicating things is the presence of a mysterious guest, who had travelled in a private rail car at the end of the train and was evacuated first to the top floor of the hotel. No one knows who the guest is, or why armed guards are needed, but it is making everyone uneasy. Hanne has her suspicions, but she keeps them to herself.

Trapped in her wheelchair, trapped by the storm, and now trapped with a killer, Hanne must fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the killer strikes again.

#13 Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur Books).

The Christmas rush is at its peak in a grand Reykjavík hotel when Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in to investigate a murder. The hotel Santa has been stabbed, and Erlendur and his detective colleagues have no shortage of suspects between hotel staff and the international travelers staying for the holidays.

But then a shocking secret surfaces. As Christmas Day approaches, Erlendur must deal with his difficult daughter, pursue a possible romantic interest, and untangle a long-buried web of malice and greed to find the murderer.

One of Indridason’s most accomplished works to date, Voices is sure to win him a multitude of new American suspense fans.

#14 The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell (The New Press).

In an African convent, four nuns and an unidentified fifth woman are brutally murdered, and the death of the unknown woman is covered up by the local police. A year later in Sweden, Inspector Kurt Wallander is baffled and appalled by two strange murders. Holger Eriksson, a retired car dealer and bird watcher, is impaled on sharpened bamboo poles in a ditch behind his secluded home, while the body of a missing florist is discovered strangled and tied to a tree.

The only clues Wallander has to go on are a skull, a diary, and a photo of three men. What ensues is a case that will test Wallander’s strength and patience, for in order to solve these murders he will need to uncover their elusive connection to the earlier unsolved murder in Africa of the fifth woman.

#15 One Step Behind by Henning Mankell (The New Press).

On Midsummer’s Eve, three friends gather in a secluded meadow in Sweden. In the still-sun-lit northern night, they don costumes and begin to role play. But an uninvited guest soon brings their performance to a gruesome conclusion. His approach is careful; his aim is perfect. Three bullets, three corpses. The murderer then carefully photographs the grisly tableau.

Also Selling:

16. Sidetracked: A Kurt Wallander Mystery, by Henning Mankell (The New Press)

17. The Dogs of Riga: A Kurt Wallendar Mystery, by Henning Mankell (The New Press) 

18. Misterioso: A Crime Novel, by Arne Dahl (Pantheon)

19. Detective Inspector Huss, by Helene Tursten (Soho Crime)

20. Firewall: A Kurt Wallander Mystery, by Henning Mankell (The New Press)

21. The Pyramid: The First Wallander Cases, by Henning Mankell (Vintage)

22. Arctic Chill: A Thriller (Reykjavik Thriller), by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur Books)

23. Hypothermia: A Thriller (Icelandic Thriller), by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur Books)

24. The Man from Beijing, by Henning Mankell (Vintage)

25. Jar City: A Reykjavik Thriller, by Arnaldur Indridason (Picador)