Add Samuel Bjork to this list: Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom, and Stieg Larsson. All of these Scandinavian authors write delicious thrillers, and Samuel Bjork’s American debut, I’m Traveling Alone, assures him a spot among the greats.
If you’ve never read Nordic Noir – yes, that’s a thing – let me fill you in. These mysteries have a specific mood. Typically, they feature loners wrapped in bulky layers of guilt and grief and heavy self-doubt. And, unlike their American and British counterparts, Scandinavian heroes are morally complex. These mysteries, which I love, have a pace that is simple and constant and focuses on day-to-day work and worries. And the fact is that murder just doesn’t happen as often in Scandinavian countries as it does here, so a fair and equitable society forms the backdrop for these authors’ perfectly modest use of language.
I’m Traveling Alone was already an international bestseller by the time it made its American debut. Author Samuel Bjork, pen name of novelist, playwright and singer-songwriter Froder Sander Oien, has written a brilliant mystery with a fabulously imperfect cast.
Holger Munch and Mia Kruger are the heart and soul of a unique homicide unit in Oslo handling the death of a child whose murder scene is an intricately staged tableau. The young victim, a six year old girl, is dressed in freshly pressed clothes and carrying a backpack, as if on her way to school. Munch and Kruger must decide whether or not this death is linked to the disappearance of an infant six years earlier, to a reclusive religious group nearby, or to something or someone else altogether. Rescued from her own planned suicide to rejoin the unit, Mia Kruger has a brilliant stream of consciousness that offers plausible interpretations of each piece of evidence. Kruger’s strength is her brains, which she knows is intertwined with her emotional instability. Veteran lead investigator Holger Munch is recovering from a divorce, a job transfer, and relocating his mother to a nursing home. Yet, he manages to assemble an elite squad of investigators in a matter of hours and keep his feet firmly planted on the ground. When Munch’s six year old granddaughter disappears, our exhausted heroes have their work cut out for them in every way.
Check out I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjork. It’s a spellbinding bit of Nordic Noir.