The winter cold calls for Nordic noir, bleak and captivating thrillers set in Scandinavian countries. These 6 mystery audiobooks will keep you on your toes as you listen, with talented narrators as your guides through intense storylines and incredible settings. Revisit familiar detectives and favorite narrators in Lars Kepler’s Joona Linna series or Helene Tursten’s Embla Nyström series. Looking for a good standalone? Try Camilla Läckberg’s domestic thriller, narrated with skill by Ann Richardson. For those wanting a deeper understanding of these thrillers and why listeners love them, check out SCANDINAVIAN NOIR, which couples literary analysis with author Wendy Lesser’s memoir to make an interesting and engaging listen
by Lars Kepler, Neil Smith [Trans.]| Read by Saul Reichlin
[Random House Audio | 16.5 hrs.]
Saul Reichlin is in perfect step with the quick pace and drama of this seventh audiobook in the Joona Linna series by the Swedish writing couple known as Lars Kepler. An old enemy of Detective Joona Linna seems to have risen from the dead to torture him and his crime-fighting partner, Saga Bauer. Warning to listeners: The plot moves from one scene of depraved, graphic violence to another. The audiobook is an intensely engaging but a truly disturbing experience of crazed evil.
by Helene Tursten, Marlaine Delargy [Trans.]| Read by Stina Nielsen
[Recorded Books | 10.5 hrs.]
Stina Nielsen voices Detective Inspector Embla Nyström once again in this third in Tursten’s series. When a body is found in a remote guesthouse, Nyström is called to the scene and is shocked to find that the dead man is connected to her best friend’s disappearance 14 years ago. The brutal weather, luscious food, and stunning scenery of Sweden add atmosphere to the listen. Nielsen impressively shifts between a promising romance with a local detective, horrifying danger, and lightning-fast action.
by Katrine Engberg| Read by Graeme Malcolm
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 10 hrs.]
Graeme Malcolm brings an English accent and a fine performance to this Danish mystery. People are dying, drained of their blood through tiny cuts. The victims’ other commonality is Butterfly House, a facility for teens with mental health issues. Detective Jeppe Kørner is assigned to the case; his partner, Anette Werner, is at home with a new baby and is thoroughly bored. Slowly, she begins to inject herself into the proceedings. Malcolm’s voice is naturally deep and rather smooth, making for compelling listening.
THE GOLDEN CAGE
by Camilla Läckberg, Neil Smith [Trans.]| Read by Ann Richardson
[Random House Audio | 11 hrs.]
Listeners will appreciate the value of a skilled narrator through the slow opening half of this ultimately satisfying domestic thriller, the latest from the bestselling Swedish crime novelist. Faye has sacrificed her own career dreams to support Jack’s business, and now he’s ready to dump her. Ann Richardson’s intimate, empathetic voice assures us that Faye, initially clingy, will get hold of herself and work out her revenge. Intervening chapters set in Faye’s childhood unfold a history that parallels her present dilemma. Richardson’s expert narration brings out the best in this sexy, high-living suspense story.
by Jo Nesbø, Robert Ferguson [Trans.]| Read by Euan Morton
[Random House Audio | 19.75 hrs.]
Author Jo Nesbø’s complex story is powerful, and his dialogue is superb. Couple that with Euan Morton’s precise delivery and his ability to effectively mix inflection, tone, and pace, and the book is an audio page-turner. Brothers Carl and Roy share lifelong secrets, and their lives continue to intertwine in dark, depraved, and unnerving ways. At the outset, Carl returns to the Norwegian town they grew up in. Meanwhile, there are an alarming number of murders, including the mysterious deaths of Carl and Roy’s parents, all of which thrust the town into a fearful frenzy.
by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir| Read by Lucy Paterson
[Macmillan Audio | 11 hrs.]
Lucy Paterson brings finely honed narration skills to this mystery involving bullying, trauma, and murder. Her very English voice is smooth and expressive, her characters well delineated. In this third installment featuring the Icelandic team of psychologist Freyja and detective Huldar, someone is killing school bullies and sharing clips on Snapchat. There are layers to the bullying theme—Freyja was bullied when she was younger, and there is a form of adult semi-bullying going on among the police in the form of hostile jokes about gay people. Sigurdardóttir pulls the pieces into a solid story; Paterson’s performance makes it a more satisfying whole.
by Wendy Lesser| Read by Kirsten Potter
[Tantor Media | 8 hrs.]
Those who are interested in learning more about Scandinavian noir will enjoy this audiobook, which is part memoir and part literary analysis. Kirsten Potter’s easy style makes comprehensible a dizzying amount of detail on authors’ names, book titles, and plot summaries. Potter’s delivery helps integrate the elements of an interwoven story of one woman’s growing fascination with Nordic crime fiction and her ensuing critiques of the most famous names and books in the genre. At the heart of this hybrid project is a love of reading and travel, and listeners will become engaged in the story behind the stories, both the author’s and those she dissects.
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