This is the rare reference book that delivers more than its title promises. It not only introduces the writers, including many not yet translated into English, but offers substantial essays on the cultural context of each country, exploring how its geography, history, politics, literature, and major recent events may have influenced the writers’ work. Listings of each country’s awards and a literary/historical chronology precede the alphabetically arranged entries on individual authors. Each nation has at least a few writers available to monolingual readers of English. Some prominent examples follow: Denmark (Jussi Adler-Olsen, Anders Bodelsen, Peter Høeg), Finland (Leena Lehtolainen, Harri Nykänen), Iceland (Arnaldur Indri›ason, Yrsa Sigur›ardóttir), Norway (K.O. Dahl, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbø), and Sweden (K. Arne Blom, Ake Edwardson, Camilla Läckberg, Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and the pioneering team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö).
Following the author entries on each country are descriptions (where applicable) of short-story anthologies in English from the Akashic Noir series and TV crime shows. For all but Denmark, there are notes on selected mysteries set in the country by foreign writers. The page-count score by country is Sweden 159, Norway 124, Denmark 95, Finland 81, Iceland 60. The term “Nordic noir” is used broadly, referring more to a general dark mood than to a more purist definition.
This excellent book belongs on the reference shelf of any collection concerned with world crime fiction.