This week I’m doing Euro Crime: one book set in Spain, one in France and one in Germany. The Spanish and German books are translations, The French book is written by an Englishwoman.
Despite the success of Scandi Noir, it still seems to me that there is a reluctance to bring European genre books to the anglophone market. This seems a particularly strange decision for British publishers to make. As a Brit, I find the way of life in European countries to be much closer than the way of life in the US and Canada. I enjoy reading crime stories set in America but the way of life in Alaska or Montana or Chicago is more alien to me than the docks of Hamburg or rural France or the Basque mountains.
I know that much depends on getting the right translator but we seem to manage it for genre books written in Japanese more easily than we do for genre books written in German.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to going on a literary European crime spree. Two of the authors are new to me and I’m hoping they’ll tempt me to keep coming back for more.
‘The Legacy Of The Bones’ by Dolores Redondo (2013)
I read ‘The Invisible Guardian’ the first book in the Baztan trilogy, last year. I stumbled over the supernatural elements at the end, mainly because, to me at least, they came as such a surprise, but I liked the writing and I got swept up with Amaia Salazar, the main character.
This time around, I’m expecting the crime/supernatural mix. I’m hoping for a continued focus on the characters and for more of the deeply atmospheric writing characters. Made into a TV series that I’d like to get a copy of once I’ve read the books.
The Baztan trilogy was made into a TV series, one season per book, which I’m hoping to get to watch after I’ve read the books (although I’ve yet to find a DVD version with English subtitles – seriously, how hard can it be to add those?).
‘Messandrierre’ by Angela Wren (2015)
This will be my first Angela Wren book. The series is five books strong now and the reviews seem positive so I’m ready to give it a go. I’m intrigued by the notion of a Yorkshire woman being such a Francophile that she sets her crime series in rural France. On the other hand, lots of Brits fall in love with rural France. I’ve always found it more welcoming than Paris.
I’m also aware of how impossible anonymity is in these small villages. Everybody knows everybody so it’s not hard to imagine that secrets are only possible on a sort of Mutually Assured Destruction kind of consensus. I’m also interested in how different the French legal system is with investigating magistrates and different, sometimes competing, police forces.
I’m hoping for a good slow-burn mystery, character development that lays the foundation for a series and a strong sense of place.
‘Blue Night‘ by Simone Buchholz (2016)
‘Blue Night’ is the most noirish book on my list this week. It sat at the top of the book charts in Germany for quite a while when it came out and the series has a strong reputation.
I’m interested because it’s set in Hamburg, which, as a large port, offers all kinds of gritty possibilities, and because I can’t resist the idea of a State Prosecutor called Chastity Riley (what were her parents thinking?). When I realised that Chastity has been demoted for causing trouble for her superiors, I knew I wanted to spend some time with her.
I would have liked to have started this series at the beginning but, although ‘Blue Night’ is the sixth book in the series, it is the earliest one in the series that’s been translated into English.
I’m hoping for gritty with a big splash of sassy humour.