International Crime Book-of-the-Month Club

As the name implies, this club focuses on mystery novels set in foreign locations, investigating how the crime novel is interpreted around the world.

2021

July: Hansjorg Schneider. The Basel Killings

It is the end of October, the city of Basel is grey and wet. It could be December. It is just after midnight when Police Inspector Peter Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly worse for wear, spots old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a street light. He wants to smoke a cigarette with him, but the usually very loquacious Hardy is silent—his throat a gaping wound. Turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, his diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers. But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. Hardy’s murder has much in common with the case of Barbara Amsler, a prostitute also found killed, with an ear slit and pearl stud missing. He follows his own intuition and the trail leads him deep into an edgy world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. More ominously, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.

June: Anna Porter. Deceptions (ECW, $16.95)

A savvy art world thriller with a strong, independent heroine and the follow-up to The Appraisal, finalist for the 2018 Staunch Prize.

Former Budapest cop Attila Feher would really like to see art expert Helena Marsh again, so he arranges a contract for her to determine whether a painting is a copy of a famous Artemisia Gentileschi canvas or the real thing. A simple appraisal becomes a dangerous assignment when usual eastern European gangsters show up and people start dying and the seething corruption that underlies the lost promise of post-Soviet Hungary swirls to the surface. In a race to get to the truth and to outwit her adversaries, Helena and Attila must solve the mystery of the painting’s origins.

Richly atmospheric, set in Strasbourg, Budapest, and Paris, this witty, sophisticated novel will satisfy readers of political thrillers by Alan Furst and Philip Kerr. Deceptions is a thinking-person’s thriller, a romp to the last satisfying page.

May: Brian Klingborg. Thief of Souls (St Martins, $27.99 Signed).

In Brian Klingborg’s Thief of Souls, the brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing—but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim.

Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing—headed by a rising political star—is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.

As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.

April: Richard O’Rawe. Northern Heist

A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller based on one of the biggest (and still unsolved) bank-robberies in history, written by a former IRA bank robber.

Nobody robs banks in Belfast without the IRA getting a cut — not even former Provo James ‘Ructions’ O’Hare. But when word gets around O’Hare may be up to something, the pressure from the IRA begins.

Ructions’ trusts his crack squad of former paramilitary compadres, and has full confidence in his audacious plan: To literally empty the biggest bank in Belfast by kidnapping the families of two employees – known as a “tiger” kidnapping — in order to force them to help Ructions and his crew get into the bank’s vault.

But keeping the plan — and the money — from the IRA is another plan entirely, one requiring all Ruction’s cunning and skill.

In this stunning debut novel, as audacious and well-executed as Ructions’ plan to rob the National Bank itself, Richard O’Rawe — a former IRA bank robber himself – unleashes a story that will shock, surprise and thrill as he takes you on a white-knuckle ride through Belfast’s criminal underbelly. Enter the deadly world of tiger kidnappings, kangaroo courts, money laundering, drug deals and double-crosses.

March: Sten, Camilla. The Lost Village.

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Come find out.

“RELENTLESSLY CREEPY.” —Alma Katsu, author of The Hunger (An NPR Best Horror Novel)

“IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP READING.” —Ragnar Jonasson, author of The Island

“Readers will revel in the chills.” – Booklist

February: Raman, R.V. A Will to Kill

January: Quartey, Kwei. Sleep Well, My Lady

2020

July: Perrin, Valerie. Fresh Water for Flowers

August: Billingham, Mark. Cry Baby

September: Noor, Rozlan. 21 Immortals.

October: Carlyle, Rose. The Girl in the Mirror.

November: Seeck, Max. The Witch Hunter.

December: Aimaq, Jasmine. Opium Prince