Dead branches covered in snow floating in water

'Tis the season - for murder! Look no further than Scandinoir – crime fiction set in the great bleak north. Where stressed out detectives wearing Fair Isle sweaters solve the most heinous of crimes while battling the ever present threat of snow – and death. Get out your favorite blanket because it’s time to curl up with these new books.

A man stands next to a giant light house with an ominous red light and red door

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir [2020]

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she's no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman's past that continues to reverberate in the present day...

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople's shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice... before it's too late.

Assh’s Review: I won't lie, I felt like this one started off a bit slow or tame for my tastes, but the build up lead to an absolutely smashing conclusion. I did feel dread and excitement, it just took a little while getting there. This book also gets points in my book for having information about how to pronounce Icelandic names (because oh boy was that confusing for me), so it's a recommended read. This is a great read for people who think that if you dig deep enough you can find all the bodies.


A woman with green eyes and green eye liner gazes away from the viewer between gold bars

The Golden Cage by Camilla Läckberg

Faye has loved Jack since they were students at business school. Jack, the perpetual golden boy, grew up wealthy, unlike Faye, who has worked hard to bury a dark past. When Jack needs help launching a new company, Faye leaves school to support him, waitressing by day and working as his strategist by night. With the business soaring, Faye and Jack have a baby, and Faye finds herself at home, caring for their daughter, wealthier than she ever imagined, but more and more removed from the excitement of the business world. And none of the perks of wealth make up for the fact that Jack has begun to treat her coldly, undermining her intelligence and forgetting all she sacrificed for his success.

 When Faye discovers that he's having an affair, the polished façade of their life cracks wide open. Faye is alone, emotionally shattered, and financially devastated - but hell hath no fury like a woman with a violent past bent on vengeance. Jack is about to get exactly what he deserves - and so much more. In this splashy, electrifying story of sex, betrayal, and secrets, a woman's revenge is a brutal but beautiful thing.

Assh’s Review: I cannot accurately express my absolute JOY at finishing this book. In less than four hours, I was torn out from the inside – what’s better than a revenge fantasy so complete that at the end you need a cigarette? Nothing. Jack is an absolute cad – a true pile of garbage in the shape of a man. Faye loved him, she adored him, she carried him at the loss of herself in their years together only for him to try and throw it in her face and deny her any recompense – but does he know Faye? Because she is so much more than the surface. The past and present collide as you uncover all of her secrets, and the best part? Everyone gets their just desserts.


A blue hand reaches into a pink body of water

Victim 2117 by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The newspaper refers to the body only as Victim 2117—the two thousand one hundred and seventeenth refugee to die in the Mediterranean Sea. But to three people, the unnamed victim is so much more, and the death sets off a chain of events that throws Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division led by Detective Carl Mørck, into a deeply dangerous—and deeply personal—case. A case that not only reveals dark secrets about the past, but has deadly implications for the future.

For troubled Danish teen Alexander, whose identity is hidden behind his computer screen, the death of Victim 2117 becomes a symbol of everything he resents and the perfect excuse to unleash his murderous impulses in real life. For Ghaalib, one of the most brutal tormentors from Abu Ghraib—Saddam Hussein’s infamous prison—the death of Victim 2117 is the first step in a terrorist plot years in the making. And for Department Q’s Assad, Victim 2117 is a link to his buried past—and the family he assumed was long dead.

With the help of the Department Q squad—Carl, Rose, and Gordon—Assad must finally confront painful memories from his years in the Middle East in order to find and capture Ghaalib. But with the clock ticking down to Alexander’s first kill and Ghaalib’s devastating attack, the thinly spread Department Q will need to stay one step ahead of their most lethal adversary yet if they are to prevent the loss of thousands of innocent lives.

Assh’s Review: I tried my best to not read books that were a part of a series, but Department Q is so well known and popular with fans of Scandinoir it would be remiss for me to leave it out. If you haven’t read this or seen the TV series, it features Copenhagen’s cold case crew Department Q and focuses on the crazy cases and the lives of the detectives in it. Unfortunately, this did not grab me as much as some of the other books in the series. I can’t tell if it’s because I have fatigue from it or because I’m tired of it, but it has middling ratings on GoodReads, so perhaps I am not alone. It bums me out because I love Assad, but this did not really get me interested. Perhaps it’s only for Department Q devotees then


A woman in a blue dress on a blue background appears to be falling to the bottom of the book

The Girl Who Died: A Novel by Ragnar Jónasson

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn't just one of Iceland's most isolated villages, it is home to less than a dozen people. Una's only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm's length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space - the site of a local legendary haunting - drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar's past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that's been kept secret for generations.

Assh’s Review: This book started off incredibly well – it outlined a bleak, close knit town and an increasingly anxious narrator that was almost afraid that she had gone off the rails. It also slapped in a ghost story and a concurrent thriller into it as well, but for all of this wonderful build up, the ending left much to be desired. It was as if the author had spent so much time finding the best parts to start with that they ran out of time when it came to manufacturing the final product. Enjoyable, but left much to be desired in terms of completion.


A black curing road through snow coverwed pine trees leads out of the book

Black Ice by Carin Gerhardsen

January in Gotland. The days are short, the air is cold, and all the roads are covered in snow. On a deserted, icy backroad, these wintery conditions will soon bring together a group of strangers with a force devastating enough to change their lives forever when, in the midst of a brief period, a deadly accident and two separate crimes leave victims in their wake.

Four years later a single phone call is all it takes to bring back the terror of that day and to set in motion a plot for revenge. For Sandra it started as an unremarkable wintery day of shopping followed by a kind gesture from a stranger. For Jeanette it began with the thrill of an illicit rendezvous with her lover. Both women had driven past the same icy ravine, but only one was in the car that caused a deadly crash, and only one left a man to die alone in the snow.

Each carried a secret from that day, a secret that, if revealed, could connect them to a larger, more terrible transgression… And there is someone out there who knows the whole picture, and who would rather kill than allow it all to come to light.

Assh’s Review: What a twist! Literally every twenty pages or so, a new development led to me getting whiplash. This is a rabbit hole that has all sorts of twists and turns that will make your brain hurt. Each of the main characters in the book have their faults, but the storyline is wonderfully thrilling. As it develops, you start to feel that everything is an even bigger conspiracy that you could ever imagine – and that ending? So satisfying. I highly recommend this.


A bleack dark wooden house sits next to a dead tree on a grey background

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed "The Lost Village," since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother's entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She's gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they've set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They're looking for the truth...

But what if it finds them first?

Assh’s Review: This was suggested to me by my partner in crime (and murder) Rachael, and boy was it a hit! Every review I found talked about the horror aspect and how it was a terrifying read, and it did not disappoint. If you have recently watched Midnight Mass on Netflix and enjoyed it, this will resonate with you – an entire town that disappears, a church pastor that grows increasingly more volatile, and an unholy act that sets the stage for terror. When you add that to a group of present day documentarians that are connected with the missing village, it turns into an absolute delight. This is a highly recommended read.


All descriptions adapted from the publisher.

By AshleyA on December 10, 2021