Easter is approaching, and with it come some unusual traditions around the world. For example, did you know a Nordic Easter involves crime solving? In Norway, it’s a beloved annual holiday activity. Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has the inside scoop on the dark joys of Nordic noir. Here’s her list of the best books, films and TV series to join in the fun of Nordic Easter crime fiction and dramas this year. Dark chocolate goes rather well with all of them, by the way. Watch your back, bunnies.
are you up for some crime solving this Easter season?
With Mardi Gras and Carnival now over, it’s time to start giving some serious thought to the Easter season. There’s choosing the right baskets and hampers. And, of course, finding the perfect tasty confections to fill them with.
There’s also making reservations for a delicious brunch with family and friends, and finding an Easter parade to attend. Maybe you’ve even planned a little Easter vacation, since the kids may have some time off from school.
But there’s one extremely important task left on your Easter to-do list: planning which of this year’s Scandinavian crime solving dramas to watch and read!
the Norwegian tradition of Easter crime solving
Last year we introduced you to the Norwegian tradition of Easter crime solving, also known as Påskekrim. Believe it or not, the dark joy of Nordic noirs at Easter dates back more than 95 years.
For those of you who dove head-first into our previous list of Scandinavian moody detective dramas and slow-burn mysteries, get ready. Because we’re back with four more to stream and four more to read to make this year’s Easter a little darker and twistier. Grab yourself a cozy blanket, a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate Easter bunnies, and settle in.
It’s officially Påskekrim season!
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the best new Nordic Easter crime films and television shows this year
1. quicksand on netflix.
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Malin Persson Giolito, Quicksand centers around Maja, an 18-year old student at an elite prep school outside of Stockholm who is arrested for her involvement in a deadly school shooting.
The series, like the novel, is told from the point of view of Maja and flashes back and forth between the present day and her memories of the events that led up to the shooting. Is she the victim or is she the perpetrator? Slowly the secrets of the crime unravel. And we learn the dark truth and terrible tragedy of the events of that day. This one is heart-stopping and heartbreaking, so be ready.
2. twin on MHz.
The Norwegian thriller Twin stars Kristofer Hivju of Game of Thrones as both Erik and Adam. They’re identical twin brothers, living completely different lives. Erik is a broke surfer bum, while Adam is a successful businessman with a family. When Erik seeks out his brother for the first time in 15 years, a quarrel ends with Erik and Adam’s wife, Ingrid, accidentally killing Adam.
To avoid arrest for murder and save his brother’s family, Erik takes over Adam’s identity. He soon finds out that the biggest challenge is not getting caught, but rather pretending to be someone you’re not.
3. ragnarok on netflix.
Filmed in breathtaking Odda, Norway, the central victim in Ragnarok is anything but typical. Unlike traditional mysteries and crime dramas filled with bodies and crime scenes, the victim here is the environment.
The villains of the show operate the town’s paper mill. What sets this story further apart is that the crime-solver is an awkward high schooler with supernatural abilities. Which include throwing a hammer very long distances. This puts him on the radar of the mill owners, who might not be strictly human themselves either.
That’s where the title Ragnarok (which in Norse mythology refers to the apocalyptic final battle of the gods) comes in.This has a little bit of a teen drama aspect to it. It’s potentially one you can actually watch with your teenagers. Also note, this is unlike anything you’ve seen from Marvel’s superhero films.
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4. trapped on amazon prime.
Last year we recommended Trapped on Amazon, which followed the story of a ferry trapped by a blizzard in the harbor of a small coastal town in northern Iceland. Season two is now streaming and picks up one year later with a completely new mystery.
In this season, the small town police chief Andri Olafsson has been promoted to a police detective job in Reykjavik. A murder attempt on a prominent lawyer with political connections is traced back to Olafsson’s hometown. And he finds himself returning home to track down missing leads, while also reconnecting with his ex-wife and estranged teenage daughter.
the best new Easter crime books to read this year
5. the tenant by katrine engberg.
The Tenant follows two Copenhagen police detectives as they investigate the case of a young woman brutally murdered in her own apartment.
The officers quickly establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who leads an eccentric life filled with raucous dinner parties and drinking. Esther also turns out to be a budding writer who’s mystery novel features striking similarities to her tenant’s murder.
Is she the culprit or a victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? The officers must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the murderer. Oh, and did we mention this one is one of Oprah’s “Titles to Pick Up Now?”
Did You Know a Nordic Easter Involves Crime Solving?
6. the children’s house series by yrsa sigurdardottir.
Our last pick is a threefer, because it’s actually a series of books (the latest of which came out in February 2020) from Yrsa Sigurdardottir (aka the unofficial queen of Icelandic crime dramas).
The first book in the Children House Series, titled The Legacy, introduces us to detective Huldar. He’s working on his first homicide investigation, solving the brutal murder of a young mother named Elisa. After finding Elisa’s 7-year old daughter Margrét under the bed where her mother was killed, Huldar realizes he needs reinforcements. And joins forces with Freyja, a psychologist specializing in the care of traumatized children.
The Reckoning is the series’ second entry. Detective Huldar and Freyja are reunited when a 10-year old unsigned letter is revealed. Left in a time capsule by an unknown high school student, the note predicts that six murders will occur in 2016. Soon, body parts start turning up. Huldar and Freyja uncover disturbing information that links these murders to old crimes, which may or may not have sparked the letter.
That brings us to the third book of the series, The Absolution, which was just released. The fraught relationship of Freyja and Huldar continues, as they must again work together to try to catch a serial killer. One who is using Snapchat to post pictures of the torture-slaughter of adolescent cyberbullies. Expect lots of twists and turns. And fair warning: there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get your hands on the next book fast enough.
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the best Easter crime books and films this year
That’s it, our top picks for harsh crimes mixed with harsh climates to celebrate the Easter season in true Scandi fashion. Are you in?
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Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier and a former Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in New York and is married with three young children. She loves cross-country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.