Thanks to authors like Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, and Henning Mankell, not to mention Stieg Larsson, American readers have become quite familiar with contemporary Scandinavian thrillers and novels of psychological suspense. As The Watcher demonstrates, however, the Nordic countries hardly have a monopoly on this genre, and in recent years several novels by contemporary German thriller writers have begun to hit the English-speaking market. Here are a few names to look for:
From left to right, top to bottom:
Petra Hammesfahr, Nele Neuhaus,
Andrea Maria Schenkel, Jan Costin Wagner
Petra Hammesfahr is a prize-winning author whose novels have garnered comparison to the works of Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith. Hammesfahr's themes include the intersections of childhood innocence with adult horrors. Her novels The Sinner and The Lie have both been published in English by Bitter Lemon Press.
Nele Neuhaus has become well known in her native Germany and internationally for a series featuring police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein. Two of these novels—Snow White Must Die and Bad Wolf—have been published in English to significant acclaim.
Andrea Maria Schenkel published her debut novel in 2006. The thriller, based on a real-life 1920s murder in Bavaria, was published in English as The Murder Farm in 2008 (and is being re-released in 2014). Her second novel, also based on real historical events, was published in English as Ice Cold. Schenkel was the first author ever to win the German Crime Prize for Best Thriller in two consecutive years.
Jan Costin Wagner is a German native, but his novels often seem like Scandinavian thrillers because they are set in Finland and feature haunted police detective Kimmo Joentaa. Wagner's wife is Finnish, and he divides his time between Finland and Germany. Wagner's first work to be published in English was Ice Moon, followed by Silence, The Winter of the Lions, and Light in a Dark House.
This article was originally published in June 2014, and has been updated for the
July 2015 paperback release.
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