Julie Recommends: International Mysteries


Three of our more popular mystery authors are Louise Penny, Donna Leon, and Ann Cleeves, whose books are set in Quebec, Venice, and England respectively.  Always on the lookout for new (to me) mystery series with international settings, here’s one I’m enjoying now, and a few I’ll be trying soon.  And if you’re looking for mysteries set in particular places, this site will get you on your way:  https://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/booksf/mystery/location.html

Joanne Kilbourn mysteries
by Gail Bowen

The Joanne Kilbourn mysteries combine powerful storytelling with a modern, urban family and gripping, satisfying mysteries. Set in Canada, this series is one part an elaborate study of family relationships and one part a meditation on the very real effects of violence. Shifting narrative perspectives, unexpected details, and evocative asides elevate the series from genre mysteries to literature.  Start with:

Deadly Appearances (Jan 1990)
When a family friend and politician is poisoned at a rally, it is up to Joanne Kilbourn to uncover the family secrets that led to his murder, in order to clear the name of his widow, who is the prime suspect.

Vish Puri mysteries by Tarquin Hall

India’s answer to Hercule Poirot, Vish Puri, the amiable middle-aged owner of India’s Most Private Investigations, is a fastidious private eye with a penchant for fast food and dangerous disguises.  Start with:

The Case of the Missing Servant (Jun 2009)
Puri and his team of undercover operatives are investigating the missing and possibly murdered maidservant of a public litigator, but how will he track down an unknown girl in a population of more than one billion? His search will reveal modern India in all its seething complexity.

Ann Lindell novels by Kjell Eriksson

Both subtle psychological suspense and meticulous police procedural, this leisurely paced series features detective Ann Lindell and her colleagues solving complex crimes in the Uppsala-Näs’ Violent Crimes unit. These intelligent and darkly compassionate Swedish crime novels feature large, compelling casts of characters with sensitively rendered personal and professional lives that are realistically messy and rarely resolved.  Present-day Sweden’s multicultural milieu is clearly evoked, balanced with  assured and complexly layered plot development. Start with:

The Princess of Burundi (Jan 2002)
When a jogger stumbles upon the mutilated body of the local reformed troublemaker, Inspector Ann Lindell takes time off from maternity leave to uncover the killer and is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a vicious murderer.

Salvo Montalbano mysteries
by Andrea Camilleri

Sicilian Andrea Camilleri‘s mysteries feature police Inspector Salvo Montalbano, who dances carefully through organized crime and bureaucratic corruption to identify criminals and bring them to justice. Montalbano’s difficult, inconstant relationship with his lover Livia is balanced by his capacity for empathy with victims and their families–and his gusto for good food. Vivid descriptions of meals, locales, and believable characters captivate the reader. Social issues produce crimes that complicate his moderately-paced investigations. Cases resolve satisfactorily, even though Montalbano and Livia never seem to get any closer together. There are lighter moments here, as well as a rich sense of Sicilian culture, but the novels are serious examinations of contemporary society.  Start with:

The Shape of Water (Jan 1994)
Early one morning, Silvio Lupanello, a big shot in the village of Vigàta, is found dead in his car with his pants around his knees. The car happens to be parked in a rough part of town frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers, and as the news of his death spreads, the rumors begin. Enter Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Vigàta’s most respected detective. With his characteristic mix of humor, cynicism, compassion, and love of good food, Montalbano goes into battle against the powerful and the corrupt who are determined to block his path to the real killer.