Ann Cleeves’ Top 10 Crime Novels in Translation

The Guardian has a really cool book section called the Top 10 and they regularly publish great lists.  Here is one that caught my eye.  Crime fiction writer Ann Cleeves chooses her top 10 crime novels in translation.  I really liked the fact that one of my favourite crime novels Thirteen Hours by South African author Deon Meyer is included in this list.

“I love translated crime fiction.  It gives me the buzz of a good story but a delicious voyeurism too: the same sensation as when I’m walking down a street at dusk and people have forgotten to close their curtains.  Snapshots of different domestic lives, the food they eat, the pictures on the walls, the way they bring up their children.  We can learn about a country’s preoccupations by reading its popular fiction.  Scandinavian crime has become so successful that books from other territories can be overlooked. Here are some examples to show that it’s worth making wider reading investigations.”

1. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon (translated by Linda Coverdales)

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien

A new translation of a haunting tale about the lengths to which people will go to escape from guilt and book four of the Inspector Maigret series.  On a trip to Brussels, Maigret unwittingly causes a man’s suicide, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to shoot himself.  (read more on GoodReads)

 

2. Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas (translated by Siân Reynolds)

Have Mercy on Us All (Commissaire Adamsberg, #4)

In a small Parisian square, the ancient tradition of the town crier continues into modern times. The self-appointed crier, Joss Le Guern, reads out the daily news, snippets of gossip, and lately, ominous messages — placed in his handmade wooden message box by an anonymous source — that warn of an imminent onset of the bubonic plague.  Concerned, Le Guern brings the puzzling notes to the bumbling but brilliant Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his straight-edged, right-hand man, Adrien Danglard. When strange signs that were historically believed to ward off the black death start to appear on the doors of several buildings, Adamsberg takes notice and suspects a connection with Le Guern’s warnings. After a flea-bitten corpse with plague-like symptoms is found in one of the marked buildings, Fred Vargas’s inimitable genius chief inspector is under pressure to solve the mystery and restore calm to a panicked Paris. But is it a real case of the bubonic scourge, or just a sinister trick designed to frighten as the body count grows and the culprit continues to elude the police?  (read more on GoodReads)

 

3. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne)

Alex (Verhœven, #1)

Alex Prévost—kidnapped, savagely beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny wooden cage—is running out of time. Her abductor appears to want only to watch her die. Will hunger, thirst, or the rats get her first?  Apart from a shaky eyewitness report of the abduction, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, and no family or friends anxious to find a missing loved one. The diminutive and brilliant detective knows from bitter experience the urgency of finding the missing woman as quickly as possible—but first he must understand more about her.  As he uncovers the details of the young woman’s singular history, Camille is forced to acknowledge that the person he seeks is no ordinary victim. She is beautiful, yes, but also extremely tough and resourceful. Before long, saving Alex’s life will be the least of Commandant Verhoeven’s considerable challenges.  (read more on GoodReads)

 

4. Thirteen Hours by Deon Mayer (translated by KL Seegers)

Thirteen Hours (Benny Griessel, #2)

Some would call Detective Benny Griessel a legend. Others would call him a drunk. Either way, he has trodden on too many toes over the years ever to reach the top of the promotion ladder, and now he concentrates on staying sober and mentoring the new generation of crime fighters — mixed race, Xhosa and Zulu. But when an American backpacker disappears in Cape Town, panicked politicians know who to call: Benny has just thirteen hours to save the girl, save his career, and crack open a conspiracy, which threatens the whole country. (read more on GoodReads)

 

5. The Depths of the Forest by Eugenio Fuentes (translated by Paul Antil)

The Depths of the Forest

Gloria, a young and attractive painter, is brutally murdered in a nature reserve. Days later, a teenage hiker dies in exactly the same way. This is the story of a journey into the heart of an enigmatic and imposing landscape, but also into the heart of the secrets that live within each of the characters. Nature, magnificently described, stands out as an authentic protagonist to form a plot that exudes mystery from beginning to end.  (read more on GoodReads)

 

6. The Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)

Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano, #16)

A hail of bullets interrupts a period of dead calm. An elderly brother and sister open fire on the piazza below their apartment, punishing the people of Vigàta for their sins. Montalbano is hailed as a hero when news cameras film him scaling a building — gun in hand — to capture the ancient pair of unlikely snipers.  Shortly after, the inspector begins to receive cryptic messages in verse from someone challenging him to go on a “treasure hunt.” Intrigued, he accepts, treating the messages as amusing riddles — until they take a dangerous turn. (read more on GoodReads)

 

7. River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi (translated by Josephh Farrell)

River of Shadows

In a bleak valley in Northern Italy, the River Po is swollen to its limits. The thick fog that usually clings to the town, blurring its surroundings and plunging its inhabitants into near-blindness, has been driven out by the raging storm. So when an empty barge drifts downriver, the fact the owner is missing does not go unnoticed. That same night Commissario Soneri is called in to investigate the murder of the boatman’s brother. The brothers served together in the fascist militia fifty years earlier – could this be a revenge killing after so long? Soneri’s investigation meets with a wall of silence from those who make their living along the banks of river. As the fog descends and the valley is hidden once more, Soneri must navigate fifty-year-old loyalties and deep-rooted rivalries before he can find out the truth. (read more on GoodReads)

 

8. Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (translated by Bernard Scudder)

Voices

The Christmas rush is at its peak in a grand Reykjavík hotel when Inspector Erlendur is called in to investigate a murder. The hotel Santa has been stabbed to death, and Erlendur and his fellow detectives find no shortage of suspects between the hotel staff and the international travelers staying for the holidays. As Christmas Day approaches, Erlendur must deal with his difficult daughter, pursue a possible romantic interest, and untangle a long-buried web of malice and greed to find the murderer.  (read more on GoodReads)

 

9. Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar (translated by Domingo Villar)

Death on a Galician Shore

One misty autumn dawn, in a quiet fishing port in northwest Spain, the body of a sailor washes up in the harbor. Detective Inspector Leo Caldas is called in from police headquarters in the nearby city of Vigo to sign off on what appears to be a suicide; but details soon come to light that turn this routine matter into a complex murder investigation. Finding out the truth is not easy when the villagers are so suspicious of outsiders. As Caldas delves into the maritime life of the village, he uncovers a disturbing decade-old case of a shipwreck and two mysterious disappearances. This chilling story of violence, blackmail, and revenge has enthralled readers across Europe. (read more on GoodReads)

 

10. Badfellas by Tonino Benacqista (translated by Emily Read)
Badfellas

The Blakes are newcomers to a small town in Normandy. Fred is a historian researching the Allied landings, Maggie enjoys charity work, and their kids are looking forward to meeting other teenagers at the local lycée. Or so it seems.  In fact, Fred is really Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-goodfella turned stool pigeon who’s been relocated from New Jersey to France by the FBI’s witness protection program. He’s got a two-million-dollar bounty on his head, but he and his family can’t help attracting attention (imagine the Sopranos in Normandy). And when imprisoned mobster Don Mimino gets wind of their location, it’s Mafia mayhem à la Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, or like The Godfather as if written by Carl Hiaasen. Because while you can take the man out of the Mafia, you can’t take the Mafia out of the man. (read more on GoodReads)

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Verity M

WRITER #Reading #Photography #Creativity #LifeDesign blogging on Lilolia. Van Gogh: "It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength..."

2 thoughts on “Ann Cleeves’ Top 10 Crime Novels in Translation”

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I’m also a big fan of crime fiction but I don’t really read any in translation either because I don’t know about them mostly. I know Deon Meyer because he’s South African (highly recommend his books) otherwise the only other author on this list I’ve heard of is Iceland’s Arnaldur Indridason who is on my TBR.

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