Long hot days, a gentle breeze, the sound of water gurgling in the fountain…balancing our hectic lives with the relaxation and pleasure of summer. Is there any better way than curling up with some great reads by the pool?
Lately, my days consist of busily getting ready for my much-anticipated trip to my grandparent’s homeland–Gotland, Sweden. I used to make this voyage every July, but thanks to COVID, I haven’t been able to make the trip to see my wonderful cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends for two years. But this year, heavily armed with all sorts of precautions, I’m beyond excited to be making the trip in a few months.
With that in mind, I’d like to share some of my favorite Swedish-Inspired Fiction books (old and new) with you with the hopes that they will be added to your “read pile” for the summer reading months.
Here are some Swedish reads in English that you won’t want to miss.
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida
On the day of her father’s funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn’t her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and her fiance has just revealed a life-changing secret to her. Alone and adrift, Clarissa travels to mystical Lapland, where she believes she’ll meet her real father. There, at a hotel made of ice, Clarissa is confronted with the truth about her mother’s history and must make a decision about how and where to live the rest of her life.
Veronika, a 30-year-old Swedish writer, rents a home in a remote village to finish work on her second novel. Her only neighbor for miles is Astrid, a reclusive octogenarian who has earned a reputation as the village witch. Veronika and Astrid gradually become friends, taking long walks and sipping wine made from the wild strawberries in Astrid’s garden. Each shares painful secrets along the way. Veronika abandoned a devoted boyfriend to take up with a bartender from New Zealand. They fell passionately in love, then tragedy befell him, leaving Veronika paralyzed by grief. Astrid endured abuse from her father and a long loveless marriage to a man chosen by him. Until now, she has never told anyone the truth about her infant daughter’s death. This is the first novel for Olsson, a native of Stockholm who now lives in New Zealand.
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer-its sunlight and storms, into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tens to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old: life, death, the nature of God and of love. Jansson created a complete a beautiful world in this book. It is translated from the original which was written in Swedish.
The Inner Circle by Mari Jungstedt
The Inner Circle opens with an international group of young archeology students sweating on a dig on the island of Gotland, uncovering a Viking fortification dating back over a millennium. They are a fun-loving lot, partying together every night, but the good vibe turns to horror when one of them, twenty-one-year-old Martina Flochten, disappears. Her body is found a short while later, naked, bled out, and hanging from a tree. Her injuries indicate that she is the victim of a ritual killing.
Inspector Anders Knutas investigates Martina’s acquaintances. Who was the mysterious lover she was supposed to have been meeting in secret and whom none of her fellow archaeologists have actually seen? What do the marks on Martina’s body signify? Is there possibly a connection between Martina’s death and the recent and unsolved brutal beheading of a Gotland pony? The pony was also bled out, and its head was missing—until it appears mounted on a stick outside the next victim’s house.
Inspector Knutas and his team work feverishly to catch the killer, but before long there are more victims, all of whom have been killed and mutilated the same way.
Mari Jungstedt integrates a healthy dose of Scandinavian mythology in this installment of her critically acclaimed series, and also addresses current issues on Gotland, while keeping up a fast-paced and intricate plot as Knutas closes in on the killer and the secret that connects the victims. This is Swedish crime fiction at its best: dark, atmospheric, and character-driven.
Angel Maker: An Unputdownable Scandinavian Crime Thriller With A Chilling Twist (DI Jamie Johansson Book 1)
When a teenage girl is found dead in the woods, her body posed like an angel, Stockholm holds its breath. The kill bears a chilling resemblance to those of the Angel Maker, a serial killer caught two decades ago…
One who just died in prison.
Detective Inspector Jamie Johansson is taking some much-needed time away from the London Met when the call comes in. Her father, one of Stockholm’s most notorious detectives, caught the Angel Maker when she was just a girl, and Jamie has long since closed the door to that part of her life. But with the original case files missing, the threat of another kill looming, and her father’s reputation at stake, Jamie is drawn back to the frozen streets of her hometown to finish what he started.
Has a copycat emerged? Or did he catch the wrong man all those years ago? Angel Maker is the stunning first outing for DI Jamie Johansson and will have readers on the edge of their seats. With a ruthless killer, a host of likely suspects, tight plotting, gritty characters, and a twist that will feel like a punch to the gut, this is the Scandi crime thriller you’ve been waiting for.
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