Get the Crime Reads BriefThank you for subscribing!
- The Cartography of WolvesApril 22, 2021
CrimeReads on TwitterMy Tweets
We’re in the midst of the globalization of crime fiction. The cross-Atlantic currents have always been strong in crime and mystery, but now the trade winds blow across the world. There’s never been another period with such fluid borders and exchange, as each month new mysteries from Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Korea, South Africa, and dozens of other noir hotspots come to our shores (not to mention the many and macabre crime shows and miniseries coming through the Netflix pipeline). It can be hard to keep track of everything new, but well worth your while.
Every month, we’ll be rounding up the best international crime fiction coming to the US. How do we define ‘international’? Well, the short answer is we’re making it up: Britain sometimes counts, Ireland usually does, Japan always, Texas never, try as they might. (Okay, never might be too strong…) That’s just a reflection of the books we cover elsewhere on CrimeReads. Consider this your go-to spot for the finest and most anticipated crime imports from around the world.
Fuminori Nakamura, Cult X
Nakamura is known for his sparse, brutal noir, exploring themes of alienation and the sublime in modern Japanese life, and the length of his new work Cult X may come as a surprise. The sprawling novel, told from multiple perspectives and with long forays into the science of the universe, is an epic endeavor that deserves to stand next to the works of Ellroy and Bolaño in the canon of lengthy crime fiction. Cult X begins when a young man goes undercover in a cult to search for his lost girlfriend. He soon discovers an underground war between two cults, one marked by libertine excess, and the other by puritanical restraint.—Molly Odintz, CrimeReads associate editor
Jean-Patrick Manchette, Ivory Pearl
The unfinished novel by the godfather of the néo-polar, one of the great talents of postwar crime fiction. Ivory Pearl is a fever dream of a spy thriller, jumping between Cold War hotspots (East Berlin, Vietnam, Cuba) and shuffling through a cast of characters with shifting allegiances and obscure motivations. Manchette’s stories are often brutal, but infused with a live wit and a forceful style. I’d read anything with his name on it, but this one, raw and inchoate, has a special appeal.—Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads senior editor
Víctor del Árbol, A Million Drops
A Barcelona native and former police officer, Del Arbol has quickly established himself as one of the most promising voices in European crime fiction. (In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Prix du Polar Européen, the first author from Spain to claim the honor.) His latest to come to the U.S., A Million Drops is a wide-ranging international espionage thriller that dives into the complex political landscape of Spain and Russia in the 1930s and 40s, and explores the legacy of mid-century upheaval in the present day. Fans of Javier Marias, Leonardo Padura, and Philip Kerr will find much to admire in Del Arbol’s work.—MO
Arnaldur Indridason, The Shadow Killer
Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason first came onto my radar with his debut, Jar City, forever remembered for the sheep’s head enjoyed as a delicacy by the main character. The Shadow Killer is Indridason’s second in a new series, launched last year, featuring WWII-era detectives Flovent and Thorson investigating crimes during the American military occupation of Iceland. Indridason uses his new series to explore Iceland’s great societal upheavals, for which American soldiers proved a catalyst, with their high paychecks, nice uniforms, and roving ways. —MO
Gene Kerrigan, The Rage
Reissued as part of the re-launch of Europa Editions’ fantastic World Noir series, Kerrigan’s novel is as incisive and acerbic as ever. Set in Ireland after the bursting of the Celtic Tiger boom days, The Rage brings a host of characters to a boiling point, their stories artfully intertwined to compose a deeper story about an Ireland that sold its soul to bankers and real estate men, and the working people left to pick up the pieces. Robberies and resentments abound, criminals are righteous in their anger, and mayhem is the ultimate result. Kerrigan is one of the more controlled, cutting stylists around. You’ll find none of the Irish stereotypes or blarney, just authentic voices in peril, with a splash of Elmore Leonard’s multi-voiced mayhem lighting the fire.—DM
Toni Kan, The Carnivorous City
Set in sprawling Lagos, Toni Kan’s The Carnivorous City follows a young man in search of his missing brother, who may have gotten in too deep with the city’s thriving organized crime. This is a story both universal and specific—an ordinary man is pulled into a life of violence by circumstances beyond his control, à la The Man Who Knew Too Much, but the unique circumstances of the novel could only take place in modern-day Lagos, quickly becoming a center for crime fiction with the support of Cassava Republic Press. Read this one if you enjoyed last year’s Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle, also set in Lagos, and also featuring a dynamic, pop-art cover design.—MO