International crime fiction has been all the rage recently with the now famous Millennium Trilogy, featuring the titles The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, but Stieg Larsson isn’t the only crime author that will make it big internationally. The newest sensation is The Hypnotist by an author named Lars Kepler, sort of. You see, Lars Kepler is actually the pen name of two writers, husband and wife Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, who had already made names for themselves as writers in Sweden and wanted a new identity for their crime fiction. They developed the pseudonym as a tribute to Steig Larsson and a scientist named Johannes Kepler. The crime fiction that’s coming out of Sweden right now is excellent. It’s such an interesting trend in current literature, but what about crime fiction from other countries? In this Further Reading, I’ll highlight some recently published translated crime fiction from around the world.
Blood on the Saddle by Rafael Reig – Reig, a well-known author in Spain, has finally had one of this crime novels translated into English. Blood on the Saddle is about Carlos Clot, a private eye who is hired to investigate three separate incidents. He must find a runaway, a cheating husband, and a character who has gone missing from a novel. And that’s when things start to get a little strange. The reader realizes that Blood in the Saddle is set in a Madrid that is not quite like the current Madrid. This is the kind of novel that boldly combines all genres and ends up with something truly unique.
The Eye of Jade: A Mei Wang Mystery by Diane Wei Liang - This mystery, set in the 1990s, is the first in a planned series by Chinese ex-pat Diane Wei Liang. Being a private eye is an illegal practice in China, so when Mei Wang sets up her detective agency, it’s safe to say her family isn’t pleased. A family friend, Uncle Chen, offers her first chance at a job: finding a missing jade that disappeared during the Cultural Revolution. This novel exposes China to Western readers who might be unfamiliar with what it is like to live in modern China, but at the same time is, at its heart, a really great crime novel.
Double Blank by Yasmina Khadra - Double Blank is the second series in Yasmina Khadra’s Inspector Llob series, a collection of crime novels set in Algeria. Once again we have an author who used a pseudonym, but this time a male soldier who chose to write as a woman to avoid strict military censorship that he surely would have faced for his brutally honest portrayal of life in Algeria. When the primary suspects of the murders in Double Blank, a group of fundamentalist Muslim men, start becoming the victims, this crime becomes something very different from what Inspector Llob originally thought.