Despite the existential malaise that frequently afflicts the characters of Nordic noir, the stern, bare-bones simplicity of its problem-solving methods is one of the form's austere pleasures. Like the arctic cold, the rigor is bracing. It transports us to a world where charm and glamor barely exist and count for little when they do, a world refreshingly free of flimflam, hype or irrational exuberance. What matters is putting one foot in front of the other and not stopping. There's something reassuring about this faith in sheer perseverance when your surroundings are in a state of bewildering flux. It's the kind of calm you get from the simple act of sitting down to make a to-do list in the wake of an incalculable loss.
For the rest of the article, in which Miller traces the form back through current stars such as Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, to pioneers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, all the way back to Old Norse sagas, click here.