International Mystery Recommendations
Peter Rozovsky, who writes the Detectives Beyond Borders blog (“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”) recently made a comment on my review of Robert Van Gulick’s Judge Dee mystery translations that interested me and let me to his blog. He has dedicated his blog to non-U.S. mysteries and has some thoughtful and interesting reviews and general thoughts about them.
And he has a lot of content on his site! I asked if he could make a few recommendations for the reviewedbyliz readers – some of the better “lighter” international mysteries he has read. He has graciously sent the following list with links to more detailed reviews on his site.
1) Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland offers an appealing heroine and a view of Australia that many Australians may never see, much less those of us outside the country. Emily Tempest is a young half-white, half-Aboriginal woman who returns to live among the “Moonlight mob” in Australia’s Northern Territory, the group of Aborigines among whom she spent her youth. A respected elder in the group is murdered soon after Emily arrives, and she is drawn into the investigation. The book is a traditional mystery in form, with red herrings and misdirection, and it touches on racism and other harsh attitudes. But it offers affectionate and humorous portraits of whites and Aborigines in the towns, rural areas and wild lands where they meet. Review at http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/2007/01/diamond-dove.html
2) Plunder of the Sun and The Last Match by David Dodge, Say it With Bullets by Richard Powell and Bust by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, all published by Hard Case Crime. None is what most people would call light, though each is breezy and funny while remaining thoroughly hard-boiled. Bust is a little harder-edged than the others, and it does have loads of violence and a fair amount of gore, but the book’s robust humor took the edge off for me. Dodge was a successful travel writer, and his two books offer vivid portraits of their settings: the mountains of Peru in Plunder of the Sun, and a number of locations in The Last Match. http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/David%20Dodge
3) Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan novels: Stiff, The Brush-Off, Nice Try, The Big Ask and Something Fishy. Whelan is a hard-working Australian political operative plagued by the greed and incompetence of his bosses and just about everyone else. His bosses rely on Whelan to clean up their messes, and the results are some of the funniest crime stories ever. http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Murray%20Whelan
4) Just about anything by Norbert Davis. This American pulpster of the 1940s was hard-boiled and hysterical. I wrote about his Max Latin stories at http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/2007/02/norbert-davis-and-max-latin.html You’ll find more about the man and his other wonderful creations at http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/davis.html
5) Of All the Bloody Cheek, Rather a Vicious Gentleman, and For Murder I Charge More by Frank McAuliffe. They’re not mysteries, but rather satirical and very funny stories about the amazing Augustus Mandrell, an international killer for hire and master of disguise whose constant concern is getting his clients to pay up. Read about him at http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Augustus%20Mandrell
6) Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin. This is the only one of this Russian author’s popular Fandorin series that I’ve read, and it’s an entertaining take on the Murder on the Orient Express-type mystery: Which one of the passengers on a luxury ocean liner committed a shocking burglary-murder in Paris? http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Boris%20Akunin
7) As a kind of dark horse, Borkmann’s Point and The Return by HÃ¥kan Nesser. These Swedish mysteries are bleak in content at times but surprisingly witty in tone. http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Hakan%20Nesser
I must confess that I have not read any of his recommendations, but numbers 5 and 6 sound particularly good to me. My to-be-read pile is about to get even bigger. Thanks Peter for broadening our horizons!