Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the time of the week where we get together to chat about... What else?! Books! It's been a beautiful week in Connecticut. The weather has warmed up into the 50's, and on friday it reached almost into the 70's! I spent some time in the bookstore this weekend already, and lots of time relaxing in the wonderful weather reading! I finished reading Song of The Silk Road by Mingmei Yip, which was a great read, and I'll be posting my review this week. One of the books I picked up at the bookstore was South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami. This is the year I wanted to finally read Murakami and joined the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge to push myself a little bit. I have a good collection of Murakami waiting to be read, but when I saw South of the Border, West of the Sun, which I didn't have yet, and saw it was DISCOUNTED, well I just couldn't resist. I had only intended to read a little of the beginning but could not put it down (It is said Murakami has a way of doing that). So, today I'll be finishing South of the Border, West of the Sun, so look for that review coming up too! What else is coming up? SNOW! This coming week the east coast is expecting a bit of accumulation of the white stuff... AND that's such a Crime!... Which leads me into today's Sunday Salon... Crime Fiction and in particular International Crime Fiction, or crime in exotic places!
Crime fiction deals with the crimes at hand, the detection of them and the motives behind them. There aren't usually any courtrooms, or lawyers. And when the crime occurs in places like Sweden or Africa, we are treated to not only a great murder, but immersed in some culture we may not be familiar with. I haven't really read a lot of this type of fiction, but was in the mood the other day and wandered the bookstore looking for some new names to satisfy my hunger. Here's some of the great finds I came across...
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill... from the back of the book: Dr. Siri Paiboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the Communist takeover, has been drafted to be national coroner. He is untrained for the job, but this independent 72-year-old has an outstanding qualification for it: curiosity. And he doesn't mind incurring the wrath of the Party hierarchy as he unravels mysterious murders, because the spirirts of the dead are on his side.
This is the first book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series. The setting is Laos, a country landlocked in Southeast Asia. The books are suppose to have a bit of sarcasm & wit from our protagonist, Dr. Siri Paiboun, which makes the novels not light-hearted, but entertaining. The writing I sampled while leafing through the books was terrific. And I can't wait to start reading this series! Author Colin Cotterill is such an interesting person himself. He's lived all over the world, carrying his teaching degree with him where ever he wound up. He lived in Laos for several years, and adds his experiences of the sights & sounds of Laos into his novels.
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell... One frozen January Morning at 5 am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he expects is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath. An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, victims of violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perpetrators may have been foreign. When this is leaked to the press, racial hatred is unleashed. Kurt Wallander is a senior police officer at Ystad, a small town in the wind-lashed Swedish province of Skåne. His life is a shambles. His wife has left him, his daughter refuses to speak to him, even his ageing father barely tolerates him. He works tirelessly, eats badly and drinks the nights away in a lonely, neglected flat. But now winter closes its grip on Ystad, and Wallander, his tenacious efforts closely monitored by the tough minded (and disarmingly attractive) district attorney Anette Brolin, must forget his trouble, and throw himself into a battle against time and xenophobia.
Henning Mankell is a name that came up a lot after the success and popularity of Stieg Larsson's series of books with The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. Thia is the beginning of the Kurt Wallander series. The series is set in Sweden and there is a big fan base for these books. There is also a link on Henning Mankell's site to tourism in Ystad, where quite a bit of the action takes place.
Murder in the Marais by Cara Black... Although set in Paris in the early 1990s, Black's new series start harks back to World War II crimes. Private investigator Aimee Leduc becomes involved when she discovers the body of an elderly Jewish woman whose forehead has been inscribed with a swastika. With the arrival of a German trade delegation, meanwhile, the existence of a powerful covert group comprising former SS officers becomes clear. Aimee's subsequent investigation exposes the connection between a war-time romance gone wrong and the modern-day murder. Literate prose, intricate plotting, and multifaceted and unusual characters mark this excellent first mystery.
Cara Black shows you "the Paris you won't find in the tour books". Murder in the Marais is the first book in the Aimee Leduc series, which takes place in Paris. These novels are also popular and Cara Black just published her 11th book in the series, Murder in Passy. For fans of Aimee Leduc or new comers to the series, Soho Press has published a free online guide to the whole series. You can find it at this link at SohoPress.com.
There are some great sources to find great crime fiction too! First, since we are talking about Cara Black and Colin Cotterill, both of these authors are published by Soho Press. Their website is divided up between Soho Crime and Soho Constable, both of which have a backlist of great authors, and the current or frontlist of recent works.
The Crime Writers' Association, or CWA, is also a great place to find crime fiction authors. The CWA also sponsors The Daggar Awards, which celebrate the best in crime fiction. In 2009, Colin Cotterill won The Daggar in the Libary Award, which is the Daggar Award where library users nominate authors and an author is ultimately chosen by a panel of librarians that work with the public. But there are a lot of different Daggar awards, which you can find on the Crime Writers' Association website.
BARGAIN EReading in Murder... Gere Donovan Press is offering the first in the Kate Shugak series for free if you download the book directly from the Official Site of the Iditarod, or at a bargain price of .99cents from Amazon.com for the Kindle or Barnes & Noble for the Nook. This is a series that takes place in Alaska, and the culture is that of the Aluet's. Dana Stabenow won an Edgar Award for A Cold Day for Murder. Here's what the synopsis of the book...
A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow... Somewhere in the hinterlands of Alaska, among the millions of sprawling acres that comprise “The Park,” a young National Park Ranger has gone missing. When the detective sent after him also vanishes, the Anchorage DA’s department must turn to their reluctant former investigator, Kate Shugak. Shugak knows The Park because she’s of The Park, an Aleut who left her home village of Niniltna to pursue education, a career, and the righting of wrongs. Kate’s search for the missing men will take her from self-imposed exile back to a life she’d left behind, and face-to-face with people and problems she'd hoped never to confront again.
Weekly Recap... Last week started of Memoir Monday with Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. A fascinating look at we can learn to memorize. Joshua learned how to do it and won the U.S. Memory Championships. On tuesday I talked about Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, which is this months Book Club Selection for my reading group. I also talked about the use of reading group guides when discussing a book in a group. Good or not necessary? I cast my vote for a guide, although not necessary, it does add fuel to the discussion at times. And this weeks First Lines was from the Mary Higgins Clark and her soon to be released novel, I'll Walk Alone. We've been talking about crime fiction today, but if you're into murder, but want more of a mystery, Mary Higgins Clark is always a good choice!
Is crime fiction something that you enjoy?! What authors are on your hit list?! And what other reading have you done this week!? Share your great reads here!
Happy reading... Suzanne