Celebrating National Crime Reading Month with Translated Crime

We are celebrating National Crime Reading Month, hosted by the Crime Writers’ Association, by recommending some fabulous translated crime novels. It was incredibly difficult to narrow this down to just ten novels as there are a host of amazing books out there to choose from. Originating countries include Iceland, Norway, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and Uruguay. We are also celebrating of course, the translators, they have the incredibly difficult and I’m sure rewarding task of ensuring a seamless translation, so much so, that while reading you forget a translator was even involved. Some of these novels are award winning best-sellers in their country of origin. These are books that thrill, not only with the great writing and translation, but also the exploration of a different country.

If you're a lover of translated crime, you must take a look at the LoveReading LitFest, our all year round digital book and literature festival. One of the pillars of the festival is translated fiction - and thus far we have spoken to Mercedes Rosende and her translator Tim Gutteridge about Crocodile Tears, Kjell Ola Dahl in conversation about The Assistant and Simone Buchholz about her protagonist Chastity Riley and her latest book Hotel Cartagena...and more. Check out the LitFest now and become a subscriber for as little as £6 per month to access the growing archive of fabulous events - and all of the new content which is released each and every week.

Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears

Author: Mercedes Rosende Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2021

Containing more than a smirk of humour, this is a bold, vibrant crime caper set in Uruguay. When Diego is released from prison he reluctantly agrees to hold up an armoured truck. Along the way we also meet a crooked lawyer, brutal psychopath, amateur con artist, and police inspector, two of whom are women and fighting to hold their own with the men. Award-winning author Mercedes Rosende from Uruguay is also a lawyer and journalist. Her writing is sharp and pointed yet rich and earthy. I initially felt as though I was observing from a distance, then as I got to know each character I edged closer and closer to the action. I found myself completely caught up in the words, the translation by Tim Gutteridge placed me within a country I don’t know, yet enabled me to feel a connection. I didn’t question, just sank completely into the storyline, and as the synopsis declares: “never, ever underestimate the women”. Hugely entertaining, Crocodile Tears is a full-on, fresh yet heady read.  The LoveReading LitFest invited Mercedes Rosende and translator Tim Gutteridge to the festival to talk about Crocodile Tears. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Mercedes and Tim in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why people are talking about this stunning thriller. The Sunday Times called it "a marvellous mash-up of Anita Brookner and Quentin Tarantino." Check out a preview of the event here

eBooks of the Month
Hotel Cartagena

Hotel Cartagena

Author: Simone Buchholz Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

With a smart writing style that combines lyrical and thoughtful with sharp and pacy, this thriller reads like a zingy dream. Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley and friends are celebrating a birthday in a 20th floor hotel bar in Hamburg when armed men take the occupants hostage. Meet the fourth in the rather fabulous Chastity Riley series. Two linked stories separated by time sit side by side. Short sharp shocks of chapters fizz into being. Simone Buchholz packs a hefty wallop into a relatively small number of pages. Her books always kiss difference, and encourage thoughts to whip in new directions. It almost felt as though there were parts in hiding, yet it all slots together. I simply adore the short and biting chapter headings, join them all together and they almost form a story in their own right. Rachel Ward as translator has again done a cracking job. Can you tell that I love this yet! Simone Buchholz has a style all of her own, and I can highly recommend Hotel Cartagena. The LoveReading LitFest invited Simone to the festival to talk about her kick-ass main character Chastity Riley and her latest book Hotel Cartagena. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Simone in conversation with Paul Blezard and hear her stunning revelation. Check out a preview of the event here      

eBooks of the Month
The Assistant

The Assistant

Author: Kjell Ola Dahl Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Taut, intriguing and compelling, this story just flies as it weaves through the interwar years in Norway. A private investigator and his assistant take on what appears to be a straightforward case but their past haunts their present and they soon find themselves caught up in Nazi schemes. I adore Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detectives Series, and now his latest novels including The Courier, take a step into the past. He writes with an assured hand and translator Don Bartlett brings his world to life without you even realising he is there. The story flips between 1938 and 1924, each turn releasing information and tightening the connection between the two time periods. The plot is powerful, my thoughts spun, my feelings hesitated and altered as I read. It was fascinating to dwell in the time just before the Second World War, before the world experienced the full force and terror of the Nazi’s. A standalone novel, The Assistant is not only an action-packed, thrilling and chilling tale, it’s also smart and thought-provoking too. The LoveReading LitFest invited Kjell to the festival to talk about this thrilling and chilling tale.  You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Kjell in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why you won't want to miss this cracking read. Check out a preview of the event here

eBooks of the Month
Blood Song

Blood Song

Author: Johana Gustawsson Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/09/2019

Blood Song continues in truly wonderful style what is an enthralling, astute, and absolutely cracking series. In 2016, members from a wealthy family are murdered in Sweden. With Profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells on the case, the investigation heads into the past. This is the third in the Roy and Castells books, the plotting is fairly intricate, so it isn’t a series you can join half way through. My advice if you haven't met them before is to go back to the beginning and start with the equally fabulous Block 46 followed by Keeper. As with previous books, we have multiple settings and time frames, this time the past focuses on the horrific civil war in Spain. The Author’s Note sits well at the beginning, with information about Franco’s regime, which I felt I needed before I started to read. Johana Gustawsson wields a seriously eloquent pen, she creates an acutely vivid picture while tackling the most difficult of subjects with a beautiful balance. David Warriner the translator ensured the thought of translation didn’t cross my mind while I was reading but I really appreciated the skill afterwards. Blood Song caught and has held onto my thoughts, it is clever, provocative, and a seriously good read.  

eBooks of the Month
Top Dog

Top Dog

Author: Jens Lapidus Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/11/2018

Sharpen your thoughts, and pay close attention as this is a fascinating, intricate and complex case. Top Dog follows on from Stockholm Delete, and can I suggest that you do start at the beginning of these two books, otherwise you will be playing major catchup as you are introduced to the many layers of characters. Set in Stockholm, an unlikely pairing continue to investigate a set of horrific crimes exploiting young girls. Author Jens Lapidus is a criminal defence lawyer, the authenticity of his world fully connects with the page. I slowly sank into the story, which as well as flinging heart in mouth moments in my path, was also capable of great subtlety. The translation is beautifully done by Alice Menzies, I felt entirely at home and yet fully aware of the fact that I was in a different country. I was wired and vigilant to changes as I read Top Dog, it really is a hard hitting, absolute wow of a read, I simply loved it.

eBooks of the Month
The Last Snow

The Last Snow

Author: Stina Jackson Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

A beautifully written, smart yet dark novel novel of suspense and tension. A family from a small nearly abandoned village in northern Sweden find themselves a target when rumours suggest that they own a fortune. I absolutely raved about Stina Jackson’s award-winning debut, The Silver Road, and this her second novel hits the just the right notes too. She has the ability to inject moments of light and hope within the darkness that holds the story in its grasp. Translated by Susan Beard, I could feel all the differences of Sweden yet felt entirely at home within the words. The background tale from 1998 begins to fill in the gaps in the present. A real sense of menace is created, and something unforgivable lurks, waiting to be found. The characters are as deep as the tone is dark, and I read with bated breath. The Last Snow cements Stina Jackson as an author to watch, this is a story that just thrums with foreboding atmosphere and demands to be read, highly recommended.

Books of the Month
The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun

Author: Sebastien Japrisot Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/07/2019

With the intrigue dial immediately spun to its furthest setting, this is a startling, and unexpectedly sophisticated novel. Secretary Dany Longo drops her boss and his family at the airport in his Thunderbird, rather than returning the car, she decides to keep driving. En route to the South of France people say they recognise her, and talk about meeting Dany the previous day, however she was at work in Paris, they couldn’t possibly have seen her! First published in the 1960’s this is still as readable and on point today, time has not caused it to wither or shrink, but to take on a rich deep tone. Author Sebastien Japrisot has a Graham Greene like reputation in France. Journalist and literary critic Christian House has written an introduction, and one that truly does introduce. The first page sent an icy shockwave through me, immediately creating an intense energy. The story was so curious, so different, I actually just stayed in the moment and didn’t spend too much time in speculation. The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is so very readable, it cajoles and leads thoughts astray before settling at the end with a contented and knowing smile.

Winterkill

Winterkill

Author: Ragnar Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/01/2021

Taut, tenacious storytelling squeezes thoughts and feelings in this chilling read. Winterkill continues the Dark Iceland series in Iceland’s most northerly town as a snow storm hits. A 19 year old falls to her death, and a diary entry suggests that it wasn’t an accident while a man in a nursing home writes “she was murdered” on the wall of his room. This is the sixth and apparently last in a series that pulses with chilling atmosphere and energy. Translated from the French edition by David Warriner, he ensures Ragnar Jonasson’s trademark biting and uncomplicated style is allowed freedom to sing. Now an Inspector, Ari Thor Arason is as fascinating as ever. The storyline contains several strands, interesting characters, and Ari’s complicated relationships. This particular investigation has an unsettling and sad overtone, that lingers after finishing. Winterkill is a satisfying conclusion to a stimulating and readable series. 

eBooks of the Month
The Coral Bride

The Coral Bride

Author: Roxanne Bouchard Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/11/2020

There is a decidedly unique and expressive tone to this beautifully written crime novel. Set on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, The Coral Bride is the sequel to fabulous We Were the Salt of the Sea and forms part of the Detective Morales Series. What at first is treated as a missing person enquiry turns bleakly sinister after an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift. A chilling first chapter set my thoughts whirling and it took me a little while to settle. I most definitely felt as though I was in a different country, sometimes almost, another world entirely. Roxanne Bouchard conveys the mystical loneliness of the ocean with the charm of the small coastal towns, and it blends into a mysterious, perfumed and heady tale. She and translator David Warriner have created the silences, trips, and hesitations that appear in real conversations. These are words that sank into my thoughts and as I read, I felt as though I was caught up the depths of the tale. Snippets of viewpoints from others slip-slapped into my awareness, while occasional moments of smirky lightness added texture. This is an author to remember and a truly worthwhile series that I can recommend introducing yourself to. The Coral Bride transports you to an ocean community, sets thoughts adrift, and creates exquisite tension. A wonderful read, and so it slips straight into my monthly Liz Picks.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Little Siberia

Little Siberia

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/10/2019

Expect the unexpected from the get-go as the prologue lights the touch paper to an intense, smirky, carnival ride of a fabulous read. You wont want it to stop! A valuable meteorite crash lands in a small Finnish town causing absolute mayhem. As Joel, the local pastor, guards the meteorite, he not only faces a crisis in his marriage but also a number of people who decide that the meteorite should be theirs, come what may! After the fiery prologue, chapter one slapped my attention to face a different direction. By the time chapter two arrived, I was sitting wide-eyed, this was setting itself up for a cracking read. I adore Antti Tuomainen’s books, he writes with a finely balanced pen, darker than dark humour hits with a provocative wallop, while feeling fresh and different. I was consumed by Little Siberia and all too soon, as the events around Joel unraveled, the ending hurtled towards me. Not only sharp, amusing, and provocative, this is also an incredibly thoughtful read, so Little Siberia receives an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

eBooks of the Month

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