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world literature

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The Nightmare by Lars Kepler

In this breathtaking sequel to Kepler’s The Hypnotist, we find Swedish detective Joona Linna investigating the mysterious murder of a young woman.  The story switches between a terrifying chase scene played out over semi deserted islands, and the political intrigue of international arms deals.  Linna at times comes off as larger than life, but you want to know what he is doing and thinking.  Follow Loona and his colorful cast of heroes and villains in this excellent sequel. 

The Caller by Karin Fossum

Someone is playing strange and nasty pranks on the citizens of Elvestad, and Inspector Konrad Sejer is called in to investigate. What begins as unnverving (one elderly woman reads her own obituary in the newspaper, and a dying man answers the door to find the hearse has arrived to pick him up) becomes increasingly sinister as the novel progresses. Fossum examines the impact of evil on the human mind in this psychological thriller--and provides no comforting conclusion. Another standout book from this Scandinavian author (try The Indian Bride as well).

Ratking by Michael Dibdin

Having enjoyed Zen on Masterpiece Mystery I went looking for the books the series is based on. This is the first of the Aurelio Zen mysteries, oddly enough shown as the third episode in the TV series. The book provides a much more detailed story with many more characters and an ending that doesn't work out quite as simply as on TV.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Another keenly insightful yet forgiving character study disguised as a mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. This series of novels featuring private detective Mma Ramotswe of Botswana are thoroughly charming, in the best sense of the word. Each book manages to incorporate at least one or two pithy life lessons that you can apply to your own ordinary American life.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter and he is at the top of his game.  Roger Brown is also an art thief and in this he might not be at the top of his game.  In this standalone novel from the author who has brought us detective Harry Hole, we meet a man living beyond his means and trying to get by with just a little crime.  Our protagonist meets Clas Greve, who just might be the solution to all of Brown’s problems:  the perfect CEO and an art collector.  As we know, things are not always as easy as they appear…

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

This is Nesbo’s sixth book to be translated into English starring Inspector Harry Hole.  I have been hooked since his first.  The Leopard finds Hole hiding out in Asia trying to avoid and forget his most recent dealings with murder and serial killers in Norway.  Hole is coerced back to Oslo to face yet another daunting investigative challenge.  Nesbo’s rough around the edges hero and bleak Norwegian environs make for excellent reads. 

A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley

Detective David "Kubu" Bengu is called on to untangle the puzzle of a badly mangled corpse.  Hyenas have partially destroyed the body but there is no doubt it is murder, the victim's teeth have been knocked out, finger tips removed and most telling there is no vehicle near by in a spot where no one would venture on foot.  This is the first in a new series featuring an interesting cast of chartacters, a tricky puzzle to solve and wonderful setting.  I also enjoyed the second in the series, The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu.

The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri

Recently retired Benjamin Chaparro, a longtime deputy clerk in Argentina's judicial system, decides to write about an old case that began with the brutal murder of a young woman in 1968. Against the backdrop of Argentina's "Dirty War"of the 1970s, his story explores the nature of justice, friendship and love.  This is a page-turner that was made into an Oscar-winning foreign film with the same title.  The movie is good; the book is better.

A Double Death on the Black Isle by A.D. Scott

Set in the Scottish Highlands in the mid-1950s, this mystery features Joanne Ross, a typist at the Highland Gazette newspaper struggling to create a new life for herself and her two young daughters after leaving an abusive husband. Her personal connections to two men who turn up dead on the same day give her a chance to try her hand at reporting that challenges her loyalties. Great local color for those who love Scotland, plus a real sense of what it was like to be a woman in the post-war years before feminism had made much headway.

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas

Another strange case for Paris police chief Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg involving vampires, political skullduggery and a troubled adult son he didn't know he had. The story begins in a meandering, vague sort of way with Adamsberg relying on his famous intuition as seemingly unrelated events come together and the suspense quickens. If you're already a fan of this intriguing and unorthodox French cop, you won't want to miss this latest title in the series.

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