Classic “Nordic Noir!” Terrific Crime Fiction From “Department Q”! Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole Novels Rock!

nordic noir

Time For Some “Ice Cold” Crime!

I want to share a style of mystery writing that I love right now –

Nordic Noir

“Nordic Noir!”

Nordic noir is crime fiction written in Scandinavia – Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in particular – written in a realistic style with a dark, morally complex mood…as I said “icy cold!”

Dragon Tattoo books

“The Dragon Tattoo” Trilogy!

Most people got their first taste of “Nordic Noir” when they read the trilogy of books beginning with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – classics of the genre…and now I want to share two other Authors who are delivering superlative “nordic noir!”

Department Q movie The Absent One

Meet Carl Morck!

Meet Detective Carl Morck…he’s the grizzled Copenhagen Cop on the left…that’s his Assistant Assad next to him, and over the course of six “Department Q” books, he is digging into Copenhagen’s coldest cases…

Departmetn Q film noir

“Department Q” has been formed to get Morck out of the way – give him a bunch of ice cold cases and let him rot in the basement…but of course, it doesn’t work out that way!

These “Department Q” crime thrillers are written by Danish novelist Jussi Adler-Olsen, who made his debut as a non-fiction writer in 1984, and as a fiction writer in 1997.

Jussi_Adler-Olsen author

My Mom and I have been devouring these books – she reads it first, then hands it to me…and let me tell you, this is working for me! Here is a look at the six “Department Q” novels, and the movies that are now being made about them!

the keeper of lost causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes

The books begin here, when Deputy Detective Carl Merck gets “promoted” to Department Q, of which he is the head and sole employee. His job is to handle “cases deserving special scrutiny.” He is relegated to a windowless basement office where, his superiors hope, he will remain out of sight and out of mind.


Everything changes when Carl demands an assistant. He gets a lot more than he bargained for–a Muslim named Assad who is a jack-of-all trades: Assad dons rubber gloves to clean thoroughly, makes bad coffee, drives like a madman, and acts like a Syrian Sherlock Holmes. This duo soon become obsessed with a challenging cold case–the disappearance five years earlier of Merete Lynggaard, a beautiful, talented, and dedicated up-and-coming politician. Did Merete fall overboard while she was a passenger on a ferry? Did she commit suicide? Or did someone abduct her?

The keeper of lost causes movie

This series is now being made into movies in Europe…of course, read the books first, as they are full of texture and nuance, but when you decide to see the film, first you must check out the trailer:

The Absent One Departmetn Q

The Absent One

Next up is “The Absent One” – which begins with a case file that appears inexplicably on Carl’s desk. Strangely, it’s a closed case, with a conviction already in place. Two siblings were murdered, and a student at a prestigious boarding school confessed. So why should Carl bother with it? But he gets intrigued and discovers that the supposed killer was part of a rich kids’ gang.

This too is now a movie, and here is the trailer:

the absent one department q movie

These films are being slowly released here in the US, but as I said, read the books first: one of the things I love about them is that they unfold in two ways: Carl and Assad trying to determine what happened in the case, and then chapters that take you back to the time of the crime – until the two strands come together…it’s great writing….

the absent one movie

A Conspiracy of Faith

A Conspiracy of Faith

Next up is a fascinating book about religion, immigration and family….a bottle is discovered in the water after 14 years, with a barely legible note, written in blood, from two kidnapped children begging for help. Detective Carl Mørck and his eccentric team of Danish detectives are tasked with investigating the legitimacy of the note and, once it’s authenticity is confirmed, discovering the fate of the two victims.

Yes one more into a movie this year – they look fantastic!

the purity of vengeance

The Purity of Vengeance

The fourth book is called “The Purity Of Vengeance”, and this one is a doozy! There are not only “cold cases” to crack, but Morck and Assad find themselves in the middle of a tale of revenge that is happening all around them!

the marco effect

The Marco Effect

This novel digs deep into Denmark’s immigration issues, as a young Gypsy unwittingly helps Morck solve a case involving a bureaucrat who disappears in Africa – a “cold case” that reaches into the highest levels of Danish government!

the hanging girl novel department q

The Hanging Girl

The last in the series involves the suicide of Christian Habersaat, a recently retired police sergeant. Mørck looks into an unsolved case from 17 years earlier that consumed Habersaat’s life — the hit-and-run death of high school student Alberte Goldschmid.

I haven’t read this one yet but can’t wait!

And if you need more “nordic noir”, here is another classic series:

jo nesbo the bat

Introducing “Dirty Harry Hole!”

If you loved Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry”, then you will love Harry Hole! Author Jo Nesbo has written a number of great crime thrillers, including the “Harry Hole” series of novels about a grizzled Detective who takes on the toughest assignments that no one else has the stomach for…

new Jo Nesbo Police

Nesbo has written a series of Harry Hole adventures, and with a recent release, all of the series are now translated into english…although this may be the best of them all:

The Snowman

These books are all fantastic as well, beautifully written “nordic noir”, and you can see them all here:

Let me know if you are a fan of either series!

Nordic Noir

Categories: Action Films, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Exotic Travel, Film Noir, Great Films, Independent Cinema, Jo Nesbo / Nordic Noir, Movies, Obscure Movies, Politics, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Uncategorized

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11 replies

  1. Oh John. You are absolutely killing me! Do you have an idea how long my TBR is? I mean, it could stretch out for several city blocks! *Sigh* Okay. I’ve already got the Harry Hole series on my list and now I’m adding the Department Q ones as well. BTW, I love that you and your mother both read them!


  2. I have not read the books, but I have followed the Nordic Noir TV shows avidly, courtesy of the BBC and Channel 4 here. ‘The Killing’, and ‘The Bridge’ are two outstanding examples. There is also the original ‘Wallander’ series, from Sweden.
    (Forget the US remake. Lame)
    (Also forget the English/French remake. Not on a par.)
    (Remade in the UK with Kenneth Branagh. Just not the same…)
    I have also seen the film of Nesbo’s ‘Headhunters.’ Great stuff!
    Best wishes, Pete.



  1. Classic “Nordic Noir!” Drinking In Bukowski! Hunter S. Thompson! Great Writing! Madness Off The Page! – johnrieber
  2. Jo Nesbo’s “The Thirst!” Detective Harry Hole Is Back! New “Nordic Noir!” – johnrieber
  3. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” Is In “The Spider’s Web!” See The New Trailer Here! Claire Foy Is Lisbeth Salander! – johnrieber

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