Your Iceland Noir reading list

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Crime author Grant Nicol.

Crime Fiction Lover is the official media partner of this year’s Iceland Noir festival, to be held in Reykjavik from 17-20 November. An exciting programme of speakers, panels and tours is being crafted by the organising committee, which includes the Kiwi author Grant Nicol, who is based full-time in Reykjavik.

Here, Grant joins us to recommend a list featuring the best books to read if you’re heading to Iceland in November. Hell, these books are so good you might as well read them even if you’re not!

SilenceOfTheGrave150Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriðason
Arnaldur is the undisputed king of Icelandic crime fiction. His books have dominated the bestseller lists here for years as they do now the world over. Silence of the Grave followed the fantastic Jar City and won the 2003 Glass Key award as well as the 2005 CWA Gold Dagger. It is a brilliantly constructed dual narrative story set in the suburbs of Reykjavík that dates back to the foreign ‘occupation’ of the country. Out of all his books, this one is still my favourite and a must read for any fans of Icelandic crime fiction. You can read Crime Fiction Lover’s guide to Arnaldur’s Erlendur novels here.
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healerThe Healer by Antti Tuomainen
The Healer was the first Finnish crime fiction story I ever read and is still easily my favourite. Antti Tuomainen’s English debut is set in a dystopian Helsinki that has been forced to deal with the spectres of forced immigration and climate change and is all too easy to believe. Tapani Lehtinen’s search for his missing wife is one of the most interesting and original tales I have ever read in Nordic crime fiction. The Healer won the award for best Finnish crime novel in 2011 and Antti is a truly original voice in the genre. A perfect introduction to Finnish crime drama. Reviewed here by Crime Fiction Lover.
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IRememberYou150I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
If Arnaldur is the king of Icelandic crime fiction then this lady has made a remarkable rise to take the throne as queen of the country’s crime writing endeavours. Yrsa’s books have taken the world by storm and this is my personal favourite of the lot of them. It is arguably her finest ‘ghost story’ as opposed to her more traditional procedurals and I tend to favour her books which lean towards the supernatural end of that spectrum. It is presently being made into a feature film and should be out in time for Christmas here in Iceland.
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HitmansGuideToHousecleaning300The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning by Hallgrímur Helgason
Hallgrímur Helgason is a painter who has also written a couple of wildly successful books, the other one being 101 Reykjavík. The premise from The Hitman’s Guide To Housecleaning was ‘borrowed’ by the creators of the hit TV series Lilyhammer to great success. In Halgrímur’s book a mobster hitman on the run winds up in Iceland disguised as a minister and then has to try to pass himself off as a man of God while attempting to avoid the prying eyes of the American authorities. It is crime fiction and it is comedy and easily one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.
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onestepbehindOne Step Behind by Henning Mankell
Okay… if you haven’t heard of this guy you’ve been under a literary rock for the last 20 years. Henning Mankell is for me the very finest Scandinavian crime writer of all time. His novels (both crime fiction as well as his other ones) are absolutely brilliant as are the stories he put together for the outstanding Swedish TV series Wallander. I’ve read all his books and picking a favourite is a tough if not impossible task but One Step Behind has always stood out in my mind as the pinnacle of his Detective Wallander series. He is the one true must read of Nordic noir.
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SeasonOfTheWitch150Season of the Witch by Árni Þórarinsson
Arni Þórarinsson is perhaps not as well-known as some of his Icelandic contemporaries but his novel Season of the Witch is as good as any Icelandic crime story I’ve read. It is set in the northern town of Akureyri and follows the exploits of Reykjavík newspaper writer Einar who has moved to the far north to write for the local paper. As he’s adjusting to the change of pace in Akureyri a woman is killed in a freak boating accident. This triggers a series of strange and deadly events that leave him and the rest of the small community at first puzzled and then terrified.
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To find out more about Iceland Noir and to buy tickets, click this link today!

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