Re: RARA-AVIS: French "polars": Police

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 14 May 2006

Thanks, Karin. I have only a few hundred books left to read, so I need some new titles to stock up on!
    I've just finished Peter Spiegelman's Death's Little Helpers, which I can recommend as a noir private eye for Wall Street, and I'm now reading Fat Ollie's Book, which reminds me of Joyce Porter's Inspector Dover series. Joy

Karin Montin listed:
> As I said in my earlier message, the most recent issue of Lire, a French
> magazine on books, is a special on crime/mystery fiction.
> Another article, "Police from Around the World" has brief rundowns on nine
> writers from different countries. I'll try to give you the gist (original
> title where given).
> Ireland: Hugo Hamilton. Hero: Pat Coyne. Novel discussed: Headbanger. Pat
> Coyne, described as a kind of Dublin Nestor Burma, is also the Zorro of
> the depths. Obsessed with details, he is equally zealous in hunting down
> spelling mistakes and organized crime. I get the impression that it is
> fairly violent yet funny.
> Italy: Giancarlo de Cataldo. Novel discussed: Romanzo criminale. A bit
> like James Ellroy, a bit like Balzac. The author is a Roman judge, who
> calls his sprawling book (586 p.), which took years to write, his "Italian
> tabloid."
> Portugal: Francisco Jos頖iegas. Heroes: Jaime Ramos and Filipe
> Castanheira. Novel discussed: As duas ᧵as do mar. Two cops on vacation
> in the Azores investigate the death of woman found nearby. The author is
> described as a master of atmosphere and disenchantment. The book also
> excites the tastebuds.
> Austria: Veit Heinichen. Hero: Proteo Laurenti. Novel discussed: Gib jedem
> seinem eignenen Tod. In Trieste, a police chief investigates the
> disappearance (at sea?) of a wealthy man whose yacht has run aground. The
> thing is, the same man had reported his wife missing at sea twenty-two
> years earlier. Laurenti had never believed his version of events.
> China: Qiu Xialong. Hero: Inspector Chen. Novel discussed: A Case of Two
> Cities. The author has been living in the U.S. for several years. This is
> his fourth novel, and it bears his trademark humour and sharp sense of
> detail. Inspector Chen, who is also a well-known poet, discovers a fellow
> police officer dead in a prostitute's arms. Later he leads a literary
> delegation to Los Angeles. East and West, greed and literature, combine in
> a subtle plot.
> Spain: Manuel Vằuez Montalbᮮ Hero: Pepe Carvalho and Biscuter. Novel
> discussed: Milenio Carvalho. The book, over 800 pages long, is divided
> into two parts: Cap sur Kaboul and Aux antipodes. Carvalho, a police
> officer, is accused of murder--but he's gone on a long trip with his
> partner Biscuter, through Italy to Israel (and I presume Afghanistan and
> Down Under). Interesting characters, interesting conversations,
> interesting food. (I found out there's a Carvalho cookbook of recipes from
> various novels.) The reader enjoys each page and tries to make it last as
> long as possible.
> U.S.A.: Newton Thornburg. Hero: David Hook. Novel discussed: To Die in
> California. Hook, an Illinois farmer, investigates the apparent suicide of
> his eldest son in Santa Barbara. Thornburg's fourth novel. Beautiful and
> hard.
> U.S.A.: Larry Beinhart. Hero: David Goldberg. Novel discussed: The
> Librarian. It's election time. Goldberg, a librarian, is is threatened
> with death when he starts organizing the papers of a recently deceased,
> influential billionaire Republican. Absurd, over the top, but
> irresistible, a bit like Reality Show, the author's earlier book (made
> into a movie).
> France: Patrick P飨erot. Hero: Nestor. Novel discussed: Boulevard des
> Branques. Inspired by the life and works of Leo Malet (whose hero is
> Nestor Burma). It's Paris, June 1940, and the Germans have arrived. Nestor
> is acting as bodyguard to a neuropsychiatrist, who commits suicide by
> injection--unless someone else did it while Nestor wasn't looking. Period
> atmosphere, cocky style with lots of slang, competent investigation.

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