It’s time to stay cool with new international crime novels out of cold climes, into two from South Korea, two from Norway, and one from Iceland (or you can stay…um…temperate…with a noir from South Africa). For those of us restricted to armchair traveling this summer, which is basically the entire world, you can rest assured that these international crime books from around the globe will satisfy your wanderlust.
You-Jeong Jeong, Seven Years of Darkness (Penguin Books)
The unloved son of serial killer finds the shame of his family’s past following him wherever he goes. When a package arrives promising to reveal the truth behind his father’s crimes, he has no choice other than to return to his hometown and finally attempt to discover the full story of the long-ago crimes. I loved You-Jeong Jeong’s psychological thriller The Good Son, and Seven Years of Darkness promises to be just as gripping and intense, and should prove once again that South Korea is the new capital of psycho-noir. –MO
Ha Seong-nan, Bluebeard’s First Wife, translated by Janet Hong (Open Letter)
This isn’t quite crime, so much as perfect for crime lovers. H Seong-nan stunned us with her first collection, lovingly titled Flowers of Mold, and her new collection is just as creepy and entrancing. Full of quiet foreboding and the heavy sense of impending doom, yet playful enough to keep you turning the pages even as you await the coming horrors, Ha Seong-nan’s new work is perfect for those who love Patricia Highsmith, Daphne du Maurier, and all the other maestras of carefully wrought menace.
Katja Ivar, Deep As Death (Bitter Lemon)
Katja Ivar is truly international—she grew up in the United States and Russia, then traveled across the world before settling in Paris, her home base for writing chilling psychological thrillers that hold their own against any Scandi noir. In Deep as Death, a former cop who’s turned to private investigation after being fired from the force investigates the murder of a high-end call girl who’s last client dropped her off at the bottom of Helsinki harbor. Set in 1953, Deep as Death takes us into the high point of conservatism and the behind-the-scenes libertinage that repression engenders.
Ameera Patel, Outside the Lines (Catalyst)
In this coke-fueled thrill-ride through the underworld of Joburg, characters face difficult decisions and try to find some humanity, even as the quest for money and the need to meet family expectations tear them apart. South Africa is one of the great hot spots for crime fiction these days, and we can’t wait to see more from Ameera Patel.
Hakan Nesser, The Summer of Kim Novak (World Editions)
Set in the 1960s on the cusp of great changes, The Summer of Kim Novak tells the story of a torrid affair and terrible murder, seen through the eyes of a young boy over a single long summer. He’s been sent out of town to the family lake house with his brother as their mother lies dying of cancer. Just before the end of the school year, a young woman arrives who sends the town into a flurry with her resemblance to actress Kim Novak. She’s there to join her brutish, wealthy husband, but soon begins an illicit liaison with the narrator’s handsome older brother that can only lead to dire consequences.
Ragnar Jonasson, The Mist (Minotaur)
While Ragnar Jonasson may look more like a model than an author, his books belie the suspicions derived from his good looks with their quality and craft. In The Mist, Jonasson’s third and final novel to feature Icelandic Detective Hulda, who begins the novel struggling to get back to full form after experiencing an unspeakable trauma. She’s called out to investigate the discovery of two bodies on an isolated farm, dead since Christmas but only discovered in the February snowmelt, whose deaths we trace back to the arrival of an unexpected and menacing visitor.