It’s a land of brooding landscapes and dark winters, so it’s no surprise to discover that Norwegian crime fiction began long before the current trend for ‘Scandinoir’. Already by 1900 Norwegian authors were experimenting with detective short fiction featuring eccentric Holmesian heroes, the best known of whom was Asbjørn Krag in the books by Sven Elvestad.

Elvestad (who also wrote under the pseudonym Stein Riverton) is considered the father of Norwegian crime, and lived a life almost as sensational as his stories. He changed his name after being caught embezzling from his employer as a young man, and took up a second career as a journalist. He was the first foreign journalist to interview Adolf Hitler and often played a colourful part in his own stories, once spending a day in a circus lion’s cage. His masterpiece The Iron Chariot, published in 1909, anticipated by 16 years a twist later used by Agatha Christie in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Dashiell Hammett greatly admired the book, and Jo Nesbø, one of today’s leading Norwegian crime authors, put it on his list of five best Norwegian crime novels of all time. The Iron Chariot helped open Norway’s first Golden Age of crime fiction, and Elvestad himself would go on to publish nearly a hundred books, many featuring his famous detective Asbjørn Krag.

Now, a new generation can enjoy Krag’s adventures with Kabaty Press’ upcoming edition of The Man Who Plundered the City. When a series of audacious thefts take place in the city of Christiania (current-day Oslo), detective Asbjørn Krag must deal with a master criminal who has his measure – or does he? From the dark brickyards on the city’s outskirts to the bright lights of the Grand Hotel, Krag must use all his skill to turn the tables on the gang and their mysterious leader.

The Man Who Plundered the City was first published in English in 1924 and the new edition from Kabaty Press features an introduction by Mitzi M Brunsdale, the author of the Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction. Kabaty Press is a digital-first publisher who aims to ‘bring the world to your bookshelves through translation.’

“The Edgar Allan Poe of Scandinavia.”

– NY Times Book Review



The man considered the father of modern Norwegian crime fiction, was Stein Riverton,  1884-1934, born Kristoffer Elvestad Svendsen and later known as Sven Elvestad. 


In youth Elvestad had had his own trouble with the law by being caught embezzling from his employer.  He changed his name, moved to Christiania (now Oslo), and worked as a journalist, engineering sensational stories featuring himself, one of them recounting a day he spent in a cage with a circus lion.  Elvestad began his 100 or so novel and short fiction career when he was 17, working from his experiences with actual policemen in Christiania and initiating the procedural form dominant in Scandinoir today. Elvestad means place on the riverside, so when he started writing crime fiction, he chose Riverton as his pseudonym.


Though very little scholarly commentary on Elvestad’s crime fiction exists, his pseudonym inspired the name of the Norwegian Crime Writers’ Association, Rivertonklubben. Norway’s  highest crime fiction honor is the Riverton Prize. 

“The founder of the modern Norwegian crime novel and a great writer.”

– Jo Nesbø

“Remarkable ingenuity . . .the style is fascinating.”

– The Sydney Morning Herald


Oslo was founded as a city at the end of the Viking Age in the year 1040 under the name Ánslo. After being destroyed by a fire in 1624, during the reign of King Christian IV, a new city was built closer to Akershus Fortress and named Christiania in honour of the king. From 1877, the city's name was spelled Kristiania in government usage, a spelling that was adopted by the municipal authorities in 1897. In 1925, the city, after incorporating the village retaining its former name, was renamed Oslo.

In The Man Who Plundered the City, Asbjørn Krag knows the city 'like his vest pocket'. Many of the landmarks mentioned can still be seen today, including the Grand and Continental Hotels.


“Remarkable ingenuity . . .the style is fascinating.”

– The Sydney Morning Herald


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"The author is well-known on the continent as a master of detection fiction.”

– Belfast Newsletter


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