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Snow Noir: 7 Wintry Crime Books

Curl up by the fire with these chillingly good mysteries / BY Athena McKenzie / December 10th, 2021

Hushed, icy landscapes, the contrast of blood against snow, the threat of power outages and extreme isolation — the winter thriller offers powerful hooks. From remote Icelandic villages to the frozen tundra of Antarctica, lean into the wintry setting of these dark, compelling reads.

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1The Darkness Knows by Arnaldur Indridason

Indridason has been called the grand old man of Icelandic noir for his Inspector Erlendur series and Shadow District novels, which feature, among myriad detectives, the retired Konrad. In The Darkness Knows, Konrad must tackle the ultimate cold case when a group of German tourists discover a man’s body in a melting glacier. Konrad handled the case when the man went missing 30 years ago, so he comes out of retirement to finish the job.

2The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock

Who can resist a tagline line that promises The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo meets Sharp Objects? When Anne Mette Hancock published this debut novel in Denmark in 2017, she was awarded the Danish Crime Academy’s debutante prize and named author of the year. Now North American audiences get to enjoy this dark tale of Heloise, a disgraced journalist, who receives cryptic letters from a woman believed to have committed a brutal murder. Teaming up with police detective Erik Schafer, Heloise’s investigation keeps pointing to her own past.

3The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson

Iceland’s dramatic weather and landscapes make it the perfect setting for a crime novel, and there’s a whole slew of writers embracing the genre. Ragnor Jonasson makes the most of the country’s remote locations and desolate terrain in his latest novel about Una, who accepts a teaching position in Skálar, one of Iceland’s most isolated villages. As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, the young woman discovers the insular community has a sinister secret.

4Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

Cabin Fever, as creepy and claustrophobic as the name implies, is the story of Oslo psychotherapist Dr. Kristina Moss, who goes to a remote cabin in the Norwegian forest after her troubled client, a successful novelist named Leah, goes missing. When Kristina discovers Leah’s unfinished manuscript, she is horror-struck to learn it’s based on secrets from her own life.

5 The Dark by Emma Haughton

How about the Antarctic for a real dose of snow and ice? British journalist Emma Haughton’s debut novel is a classic locked-room mystery set in a location cut off from the rest of the world. Looking for a new start, emergency room doctor Kate North takes a job at an UN research station in Antarctica, after the previous doctor dies in an accident on the ice. But Kate soon realizes it wasn’t an accident at all and, unable to leave or be rescued, she will be stuck there for months with an unidentified killer.

6Winter Water by Susanne Jansson

Swedish journalist Susanne Jansson finished Winter Water, her second novel, shortly before her death from cancer in 2019. It blends psychological suspense with hints of the supernatural. After a young boy drowns on Orust, an island off the west coast of Sweden, his grief-stricken father learns his son is not the first to die at the same spot. Other children have tragically drowned in these same waters, decades apart, but all on the same day in January. Is it just a coincidence or is something more sinister at play? Martin, the father, becomes obsessed with finding answers, and soon becomes the target of mysterious threats.

7The Ice Coven by Max Seeck

Wintry Finland is the backdrop to Max Seeck’s Jessica Niemi series, which follows the homicide investigator and her colleagues. The Ice Coven is the second installment and, like the first, weaves elements of a police procedural with Scandi noir. Niemi is in a race against time to find the link between a body with strange markings that has washed up on a frigid shore in Finland and the baffling disappearance of two of the country’s biggest Instagram influencers. All paths lead to a mysterious cult and a shadowy figure known as the Phantom.



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