The Foreign Intrigue Book Club
Do you like to travel? Experience a country through the eyes of a local? Try the food of another country? Join us for the Foreign Intrigue Book Group at Books Inc. Laurel Village, at 7:00 PM on the third Tuesday of the month.
September 2015 Selection: In this fresh, absorbing Egyptian mystery, Makana, a former Sudanese police inspector forced to flee to Cairo, is now struggling to make ends meet as a private detective. In need of money, he takes a case from the notoriously corrupt mogul Saad Hanafi, owner of a Cairo soccer team, whose star player, Adil Romario, has gone missing. Soon, Makana is caught up in a mystery that takes him into the treacherous underbelly of his adopted city, encountering Muslim extremists, Russian gangsters, vengeful women, and a desperate mother hunting for her missing daughter-a trail that leads him back into his own story, stirring up painful personal memories and bringing him face-to-face with an old enemy from his past . . .
July 2015 Selection: When an Albanian husband and wife are found dead in their home, Inspector Costas Haritos, a veteran junta-trained homicide detective on the Athens police force, is called to what seems at first to be an open-and-shut case. For the Greek police, two dead Albanians are hardly a matter of concern. But when Albania's celebrity television news reporter Janna Karayoryi insists that the case was closed too early, Haritos becomes unnerved. He doesn't exactly like the ambitious young journalist, but could she be right in thinking the murder has something to do with babies?
Before Haritos can find out, Janna is suddenly murdered, moments before she is to go on the air with a startling newsbreak. Did her mysterious report have something to do with the murdered Albanians? Who wanted her silenced, and why? Caught between a bumbling junior officer and higher-ups all too easily influenced by news executives determined to protect their own, Costas Haritos sets out to get to the bottom of the matter-and ends up neck deep in a dark form of capitalism that has emerged in Albania after the dictatorship.
June 2015 Selection: A gritty noir set in Barcelona's savage underbelly.
Epi Dalmau is a desperate man. Early one morning, he carries a duffle bag into a dingy bar in a rough neighborhood of Barcelona. Four other people are in the bar: his brother Alex, his good friend Tanveer, the bartender, and a Pakistani man who wandered in to use the restroom. Epi grabs a hammer out of his duffle bag and attacks Tanveer. After a brief struggle and a couple of blows, Tanveer lies dead on the floor and Epi flees the bar.
Alex and the bartender plan to find and protect Epi, while blaming the murder on the unfortunate Pakistani man, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, Epi is hunting for Tiffany, the woman of his dreams and the reason behind the murder. What he'll do when he finds her, and what drove him to brutal violence are the subjects of Carlos ZanOn's gritty, unflinching novel, set in a city tourists never see.
"The Barcelona Brothers" is a hard look at what people are capable of when they have no other options, and a portrait of a modern, multicultural Barcelona.
May 2015 Selection: Forced into the SS in 1941, a Berlin factory owner is sent to infiltrate the mountains where a battle rages over an element vital to Hitler's blitzkrieg. Fifty years later, the investigation of a murder of a teenage girl in Lisbon takes Inspector Z Coelho back across a bloody swath of history to the scene of an older crime buried among the bones of a fascist past--and to a chilling motive buried even deeper. Winner of the Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel.
April 2015 Selection: Meet Chief Inspector William Wisting, an experienced policeman who is familiar with the dark side of human nature. He lives in challenging times for the Norwegian police force, meeting them with integrity and humanity, and a fragile belief that he can play a part in creating a better world. Dregs begins with a police report giving the place and time of the discovery of a training shoe washed up on the sand, still containing a severed foot from the victim's body, the introduction of CI William Wisting, and the first hint of his health worries. Soon a second shoe is washed up, but it is another left. What is the explanation for this? Has there been some kind of terrible accident at sea? Does it indicate the killing and dismembering of two victims? Is there a link with the unsolved mystery of a number of disappearances in the Larvik area in recent months? In this gripping police procedural, Wisting gradually gets to the bottom of the mystery with the help of his all too human colleagues and his journalist daughter, Line.
March 2015 Selection: From a master of Scandinavian crime fiction--the first in a brilliant series of novels centered around the investigations of one irascible, obdurate, and very thirsty Swedish police officer: Detective Superintendent Evert Backstrom of the National Murder Squad.
Detective Backstrom is Persson's persistently repulsive yet undeniably brilliant comic creation--an unforgettable cop winding his way through the black comedy of a crime scene, and managing to upset nearly everyone in the process.When a newspaper delivery boy finds a 68 year-old alcoholic lying dead in his apartment--beaten with a saucepan lid and hammer, and then strangled--everyone expects an open-and-shut murder case, everyone that is but Hawaiian-shirt clad Detective Backstrom who's been assigned to lead the investigation team. Under strict orders from his doctor to improve his health as quickly as possible, Backstrom has begun stumbling to work on foot, and even eating vegetables. The police force isn't what it used to be though, and now that it's crowded with women and foreigners resisting a drink is harder than ever before. But when the newspaper boy goes missing Backstrom's suspicions are proven correct, giving his irrepressible mix of luck and laziness a chance to save the day, while managing to upset nearly everyone in the process.
February 2015 Selection: Set in modern-day Iceland--and already an international sensation--"Last Rituals" introduces one of the most compelling and exceptional new characters to appear in years, attorney Thra Guomunddottir, in a tale of medieval witchcraft and modern murder.
January 2015 Selection: Set in charming and historic Aix-en-Provence, France, Death at the Château Bremont introduces readers to Antoine Verlaque, the handsome and seductive chief magistrate of Aix, and his on-again, off- again love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet. When local nobleman Etienne de Bremont falls to his death from the family château, the town is abuzz with rumors. Verlaque suspects foul play and must turn to Marine for help when he discovers that she had been a close friend of the Bremonts. This is a lively whodunit steeped in the rich, enticing, and romantic atmosphere of southern France.
November 2014 Selection: ohn Le Carre meets Mikhail Bulgakov in this international crime thriller by the author of the acclaimed "Death and the Penguin"
The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon--and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. They begin their investigations unbeknownst to each other, but quickly find themselves mystified about developments caused by the other.
Thus begins a comedy of very dangerous errors as the two crisscross Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine, catalysts in a bizarre battle between the Russian and Ukrainian secret services.
What ensues is simultaneously hilarious, tragic, and suspenseful, with a fascinating cast of characters who would seem absurd if they weren't so compelling: a larger-than-life hitman, a deaf-and-dumb blonde, and a turtle. Then there's the gun that shoots backwards...
And as the two faithful investigators find themselves to be pawns in a story of post-Soviet collapse, it becomes--as usual in the work of this modern Russian master--an inspiring tale of resilience against the dark forces of the day.
October 2014 Selection: One of the most wildly popular detective series in EuropeNwhere each book has sold more than 300,000 copies--finally comes to the U.S. and UK. Haas' Detective Brenner series is timely, edgy and told in a quirky voice that's often hilarious, with a protagonist hard not to love.
September 2014 Selection: On a quiet street in downtown Amsterdam, the founder of a new religious society/commune--a group that calls itself "Hindist" and mixes elements of various "Eastern" traditions--is found hanging from a ceiling beam. Detective-Adjutant Gripstra and Sergeant de Gier of the Amsterdam police are sent to investigate what looks like a simple suicide, but they are immediately suspicious of the circumstances.
This now-classic novel, first published in 1975, introduces Janwillem van de Wetering's lovable Amsterdam cop duo of portly, worldly-wise Gripstra and handsome, contemplative de Gier. With its unvarnished depiction of the legacy of Dutch colonialism and the darker facets of Amsterdam's free drug culture, this excellent procedural asks the question of whether a murder may ever be justly committed.
August 2014 Selection: It is just before Christmas and the marshal wants to go South to spend the holiday with his wife and family, but first he must recover from the flu (which has left the Florentine caribinieri short-handed) and also solve a murder. A seemingly respectable retired Englishman, living in a flat on the Via Maggio near the Santa Trinita bridge, was shot in the back during the night. He was well-connected and Scotland Yard has dispatched two officers to "assist" the Italians in solving the crime. But it is the marshal, a quiet observer, not an intellectual, who manages to figure out what happened, and why.
July 2014 Selection: Some favours simply cannot be refused. Tonio agrees to write a love letter for Dario, a low-rent Paris gigolo. When Dario is murdered, a single bullet to the head, Tonio finds his friend has left him a small vineyard somewhere east of Naples. The wine is undrinkable but an elaborate scam has been set up. The smell of easy unbridled hatred of the locals. Mafiosi aren't choir boys, and monsignors can be very much like Mafiosi. A darkly comic, iconoclastic tale.
June 2014 Selection: Pablo Simo's life is a mess. His career as an architect is at a deadend; reduced to designing soulless office buildings desecrating the heart of Buenos Aires. His marriage seems to be one endless argument with his wife over the theatrics of their rebellious teenage daughter. To complicate matters, Pablo has long been attracted to sexy office secretary Marta Horvat, who is probably having an affair with his boss. Everything changes with the unexpected appearance of Leonor, a beautiful young woman who brings to light a crime that happened years before, a crime that everyone in the office wants forgotten, at all costs."
May 2014 Selection: "Both a scathing and picaresque comedy, a biting and spicy concoction. Just like tequila."--Le Monde
It's not easy being a cop in Mexico City. Meet Carlito, a police detective with a complicated life. A wife, a mistress, children by both. He resorts to money laundering and arms dealing to finance his police activity. The money for justice must be found somewhere.
The corpse in the hotel room is that of a gringo with a weakness for blue movies. Carlito's maverick investigation leads him into a labyrinth of gang wars and corrupt politicians.
Rolo Diez, born in Argentina, was imprisoned for two years during the military dictatorship. He now lives in Mexico City, where he works as a novelist and screenwriter.
April 2014 Selection: "A magnificent novel. Haunted by the tragic story and passion of its characters."--"Magazine Litteraire"
The first of the Havana quartet featuring Inspector Mario Conde, a tropical Marlowe. A young transvestite in a beautiful red dress is found strangled in a Havana park. Conde's investigation into a violent murder exposes a stifling, corrupt society, a Cuban reality where nothing is what it seems. A dark and fascinating world of men and women born in the revolution who live without dreaming of exile and seek their identity in the midst of disaster.
Leonardo Padura lives in Cuba. He is a novelist, essayist, journalist and scriptwriter. "Havana Red" has won numerous literary prizes, including the Hammett prize in Spain.