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2017-08-31

By the Book at the Bandera Library

by Michael Garr,

Book Reviews
by Michael Garr,
Bandera Library Director

We will be exploring detective fiction from around the world in this column. The original foreign detective was usually English, thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, or Belgian, in the musings of Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot.
In the late 1980’s, M.C. Beaton, one of several alias used by Marion McChesney, who was born in Scotland, introduced the world to Scottish constable Hamish Macbeth. McChesney has 34 books in the M.C. Beaton series with her most recent “Death of a Ghost” published this year. McChesneye introduced another series in 1992, featuring the character, Agatha Raisin, a retired PR agent in London who retires to Cotswold and immediately gets entangled in local mysteries. There are 28 books in this series. Collectively, the Bandera Library has 20 books representing both series.
Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish writer of crime fiction whose deeply flawed Copenhagen Chief Detective, Carl Morck, is his protagonist. Morck is assigned to Department Q, in the basement of the police building and he is a department of one. He and a ragtag band of absurd part-timers investigate cold cases. I find his books amusing and thoughtfully written. Jussi has seven books in this series, with his latest, “The Scared Woman,” coming on Sept. 17. He has also produced several standalone novels. The translated books in the US are always a year or two behind their Denmark releases.
Let’s head to Germany for an introduction to Phillip Kerr and his series featuring wisecracking Bernie Gunther of historical thrillers set in Germany and elsewhere during the 1930s, the Second World War and the Cold War. His first three books are a trilogy called, “Berlin Noir.” Each book is set in a different year and even decade as you follow his clashes in the Nazi pre-war, during the war and even into Argentina after the war. The writing style can be likened to Raymond Chandler of the 30’s. Thirteen books are in this series with “Prussian Blue” released three months ago and “Greeks Bearing Gifts” coming in 2018, his latest releases.
Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian writer, follows Harry Hole, a tough detective working at first for Crime Squad and later with the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos). His investigations may take him from Oslo to Australia and the Congo Republic. Hole takes on seemingly unconnected cases, sometimes found to involve serial killers, bank robbers, gangsters or the establishment, but also spends a significant amount of time battling alcoholism and his own demons. The Harry Hole novels are multi-layered, violent and often feature women in peril, as typified by “The Snowman.” The movie adaptation is scheduled for release in October. Nesbo’s 2017 book was “The Thirst.” If you like this author, he has 11 books in the series.
And finally, a new favorite of mine is the British writer, Peter James, whose books all have the word DEAD in the title. There are 13 books in this series featuring Inspector Roy Grace. His latest release of 2017 is called “Need You Dead.” The premise of his first book, “Dead Simple,” involved a bachelor party gone wrong. The friends of the groom get him all liquored-up and then place him in a coffin, buried with a flashlight, an adult magazine, a bottle of booze and a radio. The punchline which launches this mystery is that while driving away from this practical joke, they are all killed in a car crash. And no one knows what they have done.
Well that’s enough globe-trotting for one column. I’ll reminder you that the library subscribes to Kirkus Review, a book industry review of fiction, non-fiction and children’s and teen books soon to be released. And lastly, I invite all fans of western fiction to see the newly created western section in the library, comprising all titles both regular print and large print in the genre. The seven book cases hold over 1,100 titles, befitting the Cowboy Capital of the World. Be safe and Read Well!