Hakan Oslundh: The Intruder Wednesday, Oct 7 2015 

The isolated island of Sweden’s Faro is the setting for Hakan Oslundh’s crime novel, The Intruder.
Auntie M finds the Scandinavian writers have different conventions to their crime novels, a more leisurely developed pace that allows for the characters lives to be examined before the hunt for a perpetrator sets in. There’s a large sense of setting, too, which looms over the action and in this case, helps to narrow down the suspects when a truly horrific crime sets in.

But long before we get to the terrible act to come, there are small incidents occurring to this family with two small children. Malin Andersson is a food blogger; her husband Henrik Kjellander is a professional photographer who travels extensively on photo shoots with glamorous models, those print ads paying the bills and helping the couple renovate the house and outbuildings they’ve purchased on Faro. Their plan is to have an artists colony there, a place where other photographers will gather to recharge their batteries, refreshed by the stark landscape and Malin’s food.

The family returns to their home after a four week vacation that has allowed them to rent the house out for decent prices. But immediately upon their return, Malin is frustrated not just by the uncleanliness the last tenant left, but by missing times from the home. There are pieces of glass on the floor, too, found only when Malin steps on one and cuts her foot just as their daughter calls them to her room: someone has defecated in her toy basket.

And then Malin notices that family photos are missing, and when she finds one shoved amongst their linens she calls the police in fear, for the photograph has been damage in that all of their eyes have been poked out.

Gotland detective Fredrik Broman is sent to interview the couple. Just returning after a lengthy medical leave from fall that almost killed him, he’s finding his footing again at work and at home, concerned he doesn’t have what it takes to work at policing again. These incidents on Faro could be a joke, but Broman takes them as a warning. Then the couple’s daughter disappears at lunch from her school, and the action ratchets up.

Henrik has returned to the island under unusual circumstances. Estranged from his mother’s second family, a lawsuit between the two arms of the family seems the obvious place to look for suspects. When the incidents turn deadly, Broman and his team will find themselves rapidly trying to save this family as they exhaust all possible suspects, hampered by the remoteness of the setting.

The language is lovely; there is a depth of characterization of all of the participants Auntie M enjoys that makes the heartbreak later on particularly poignant. This mystery is rich with the psychology of the participants, filled with secrets of the past, and vastly enjoyable.

Arnaldur Indridason: Strange Shores Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 

Strange Shores
Multi-award winning Nordic author sets his Inspector Erlendur series in Iceland, where the detective has had to tackle the ghosts of many other criminals’ lives. In Strange Shores he brings Erlendur to his childhood home to face the ghosts of his own past.

Erlendur’s entire life has been affected by the loss of his only sibling, a younger brother. Beggi’s disappearance in a sudden blizzard whilst the boys were on the moors with their father has left a hole in his heart. No trace of the boy was ever found, and he realizes he must discover what really happened to his brother.

The frozen fjords of Iceland, miles away from Reykjavik, present him with a distinct challenge as he camps out in the remains of his old home. The story of a woman who disappeared years before is brother has caught his interest, and he follows the scent of the two lost people, looking for clues to both of their endings.

It will be a long, plodding time, visiting people who are old and have tainted memories and secrets to hide. But Erlandur will persevere until he finds the answers to the questions he seeks. The ending will have readers riveted as Erlandur chases down a decadeds-old case.

These are moody, brooding novels that echo the chilly landscape, with subtle clues and a bone-chilling climax.