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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden, gnaws at her octogenarian uncle, Henrik Vanger. He is determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder. He hires crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, recently at the wrong end of a libel case, to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance. Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness--assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism--and a surprising connection between themselves.
If you like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (followed by the next two books in the Millennium trilogy: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest), you may like these titles -- some have intriguingly complex plots, while others offer portraits of unusual, unique females.
by Josh Bazell
The carefully orchestrated life of Manhattan emergency room doctor and witness-protection program participant Peter Brown unravels in the course of a high-stakes day that begins with a mugging, an elevator encounter with a sexy pharmaceutical rep, and a new patient who knows him from his previous existence.
A Beautiful Place to Die
by Malla Nunn
"Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, 1952. An Afrikaner police officer is found dead. Detective Emmanuel Cooper, a man of uncertain parentage in a country that demands racial purity, follows a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of one Captain Pretorius."-catalog summary
The Blue Place
by Nicola Griffith
"A stylishly erotic and suspenseful new thriller from an award-winning author. Formerly an undercover police lieutenant, Aud Torvingen has the pale eyes of a wolf. Born into diplomatic society, she now makes Atlanta her home, gliding easily between the world of silken elegance and that of sleaze and sudden savagery. Late one night, out walking just to stay sharp, Torvingen has a chance encounter with a running woman; seconds later a house explodes and the woman disappears. But Julia Lyons-Bennet will return, seeking Aud's protection from a deadly international game of forgery, drugs, and murder. Aud knows there is danger here, pulling her back once again to that cool blue place where everything slows down and takes on a crystal clarity: that place where violence is bliss. The danger excites Julia as well -- sexy, refined, frightened Julia -- forging an intense erotic bond between the two women that hangs in the balance -- along with their lives."-catalog summary
Bury Me Deep
by Megan Abbott
"Inspired by this notorious true crime, Edgar-winning author Megan Abbott's novel "Bury Me Deep" is the story of Marion Seeley, a young woman abandoned in Phoenix by her doctor husband, who meets -- and falls hard for -- the charming Joe Lanigan, a local rogue and politician on the rise, whose ties to Marion and her two friends bring events to a dangerous collision."--catalog summary
by Muriel Barbery
“Renée Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hôtel particulier. Though short, ugly, and plump, Renée has, as she says, always been poor, but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, supersmart 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renée, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts.”—review from Publishers Weekly. © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
by Denise Mina
"A taut crime novel with a heroine as tough as Sara Paretsky's V.I.
Warshawski and Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta -- and more down-to-earth than either..."-catalog summary
by Elizabeth Hand
"Cass Neary made her name in the seventies as a photographer embedded in the burgeoning punk movement in New York City. Her pictures of the musicians and the hangers-on, the infamous, the damned, and the dead, earned her a brief moment of fame. Thirty years later she is adrift, on her way down, and almost out when an old acquaintance sends her on a mercy gig to interview a famously reclusive photographer who lives on an island in Maine. When she arrives Down East, Cass stumbles across a decades-old mystery that is still claiming victims, and she finds one final shot at redemption. Patricia Highsmith meets Patti Smith in this mesmerizing literary thriller."-catalog summary
by Martin Cruz Smith
“A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and New York police as he performs the impossible--and tries to stay alive doing it.”—catalog summary
by Chelsea Cain
"Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind-addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie's a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she's right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth-he can't stay away. When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory."-catalog summary
by Tana French
“After a 12-year-old Irish lad and his two pals fail to return from a day in the woods, searchers find only the terrified sixth grader--with blood-filled shoes and no memory of what happened. Now 32, the tragedy's sole survivor Rob Ryan is a detective on Dublin's Murder Squad. A current investigation takes Rob to the exact site of his childhood trauma. With the present case chillingly similar to his 20-year-old nightmare, Rob hopes to unlock the shrouded secrets of his past.”—catalog summary
by Colson Whitehead
“Set in a New York-like metropolis, it tells the tale of Lila Mae Watson, the first black woman elevator inspector. Now this may not sound impressive, but in the tricky universe Whitehead has constructed, elevators are mystical vehicles and the inspectors a priestly lot. But all is not peaceful in the cult of verticality: there is a war going on between two factions, the Empiricists, who work purely on the physical plane, and the Intuitionists, who inspect by sensing, or intuiting, the state of each machine. Watson is an Intuitionist whose faith is shaken to the core by a freak accident that not only jeopardizes her career but, as her attempt to clear her name draws her into a web of intrigue surrounding the enigmatic founder of her sect, puts her very life in danger. The story is mesmerizing, but it is Whitehead's shrewd and sardonic humor and agile explications of the insidiousness of racism and the eternal conflict between the material and the spiritual that make this such a trenchant and accomplished novel.”—review by Donna Seaman for Booklist
by J.A. Jance
"When a nun recalls the grisly details of an unsolved murder she witnessed as a child 50 years ago, Seattle Special Homicide Investigation Team member J.P. Beaumont struggles to solve one of his most baffling and dangerous cases yet in this "New York Times"
by William Gibson
Cayce is a "cool hunter" who is obsessed with bits of strange footage which pop up at odd intervals across the Web. As she looks for patterns in the images she sees, her job and her obsession collide when a rich megalomaniac hires her to find the creator of this footage to exploit for commercial purposes.
by Sofi Oksanen
"Aliide Truu, an older woman guilty of crimes during the Soviet occupation of Estonia, takes in a young woman, Zara, who is trying to escape a sex-trafficking ring, and as they work through their suspicion, the two rediscover a tragic family history from the past."-catalog summary
by Jo Nesbø
"A tale moving from the final months of World War II to the present, and from the Russian front to contemporary South Africa, follows the dual adventures of a freedom-seeking war martyr and an alcoholic police officer who is drawn into a mystery with past origins."
by Peter Hoeg
“Smilla Qaaviqaaq Jaspersen is the daughter of a Danish doctor and an Inuit woman from Greenland. Raised in Greenland, she lives in Copenhagen and, as befits her ancestry, is an expert on snow. When one of her few friends, an Inuit boy, dies under mysterious circumstances, she refuses to believe it was an accident. She decides to investigate and discovers that even the police don't want her involved. But Smilla persists, and as snow-covered Copenhagen settles down for a quiet Christmas, Smilla's investigation leads her from a fanatically religious accountant, to a tough-talking pathologist, to the secret files of the Danish company responsible for extracting most of Greenland's mineral wealth. Finally, she boards a ship with an international cast of villains - and a large stash of cocaine - bound for a mysterious mission on an inhospitable island off Greenland.”—catalog summary
by Lisa Lutz
Meet Izzy Spellman, as a teen she'd pass out in her front yard or wouldn't come home at all. Now she's trying to decide if she should clean up her act and join the family business as a private eye.
Meanwhile, a cold case drives her to keep investigating, her little sister disappears, and she's romancing a dentist while concealing her odd family from him.
by Åsa Larsson; translated by Marlaine Delargy
"Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she'd left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess...."--catalog summary
by Aravind Adiga
“Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.”—catalog summary
You might also enjoy crime novels by these Scandinavian authors:
Camilla Lackberg, Henning Mankell, Ake Edwardson, Kerstin Ekman, Kjell Eriksson, Asa Larsson, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, Helene Tursten, Arnaldur Indriðason, and Yrsa Siguroardottir.
Crime novels by these authors may also appeal to you (some of these folks write in more than one genre):
Martin Clark, Pete Dexter, Patricia Highsmith, Mo Hayder, Christopher Fowler, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, Andrew Vachss, and Chester Himes.