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.
July 2016 Selection: Winner of the Scerbanenco Prize for the best Italian crime thriller, "The" "Deliverance of Evil" is a masterful psychological thriller about an edgy policeman's personal evolution--or devolution--as seen through the lens of a devilish case that consumed him early in his career and continues to haunt him twenty-four years later.
With excitement over Berlusconi rise to power and Italy in a state of gleeful and frenzied anticipation over the national soccer team's improbable run to the 1982 World Cup, Italians are filled with hopeful feelings. The night before the big match, Elisa Sordi--an attractive eighteen year-old employed by the Vatican--vanishes. The case falls to a young, hedonistic post-Fascist officer named Michele Balistreri. Headstrong and ambivalent about spending his life as a policeman, Balistreri is annoyed to be interrupted during the festivities and takes the case lightly. But when Elisa's tortured corpse surfaces in the Tiber, Balistreri doubts he will ever be able to forgive himself for his inattention. After the man he arrested for the murder is exonerated, and tantalizing links to the Vatican and top right-wing politicians ignored, the case is never solved. Despondent, Michele spirals into drinking and depression.
Twenty-four years later Italy is victorious once again in the World Cup, but the nation has changed. The balloon of optimism from the Eighties has deflated, and the now-gloomy nation suffers under the arrogant and corrupt Berlusconi government. A weak economy and chaotic immigration policies that have inflamed racist sentiments provide a stark contrast to the last time Italy tasted sweet soccer victory. Disturbingly, more lax divorce laws have spawned a trend of "revenge" violence against women who try to assert their independence.
Suddenly Sordi's mother apparently commits suicide, and then a slew of female corpses begin to turn up all with a letter of the alphabet carved into their bodies. The apparent hate behind the murders causes Balistreri to realize that the case that has haunted for twenty-four years may be heating up again, and with a newfound sense of purpose he charges into his work: the opportunity to redeem the darkest part of his past.
The murders continue, and what initially seemed to be the work of a lone psychopath reveals itself to be part of something much bigger and more dangerous. Finally Balistreri realizes that the letters marking each victim are spelling out a chilling message.
June 2016 Selection: This harrowing mystery, winner of the Philippine National Book Award, follows two Catholic priests on the hunt through Manila for a brutal serial killer
Payatas, a 50-acre dump northeast of Manila s Quezon City, is home to thousands of people who live off of what they can scavenge there. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in a city whose law enforcement is already stretched thin, devoid of forensic resources and rife with corruption. So when the eviscerated bodies of preteen boys begin to appear in the dump heaps, there is no one to seek justice on their behalf.
In the rainy summer of 1997, two Jesuit priests take the matter of protecting their flock into their own hands. Father Gus Saenz is a respected forensic anthropologist, one of the few in the Philippines, and has been tapped by the Director of the National Bureau of Investigations as a backup for police efforts. Together with his protege, Father Jerome Lucero, a psychologist, Saenz dedicates himself to tracking down the monster preying on these impoverished boys.
May 2016 Selection:Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko's next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.
When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko's manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there's something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.
April 2016 Selection: On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries.
The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant.
As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought.
And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs...
March 2016 Selection: Meet Ava Lee, alluring but deadly, with a mind like a steel trap, as she chases millions of dollars and dangerous criminals around the globe in this exotic and fast-paced new crime series by Ian Hamilton.
In "The Wild Beasts of Wuhan," Wong Changxing, a rich Chinese powerbroker, has just been bilked out of $100 million in an elaborate art forgery con. His one hope of recovering the money, and of saving face, is Ava Lee a forensic accountant with a talent for tracking down untraceable funds. With the help of her mentor, the Triad-connected Uncle, Ava traces the provenance of the meticulously forged paintings to Denmark, the Faroe Islands, New York, and London. As she infiltrates one of the most prestigious auction houses in the world, she uncovers a massive web of corruption, where high art and high-stakes fraud threaten more than just her client's business this is one scam that could get her killed. Ava Lee is one of the most scintillating, unique heroines to come along in years.
February 2016 Selection: In a sophisticated international thriller ("The New York Times Book Review") from a fresh voice in crime fiction ("Kirkus Reviews"), antiques dealer-turned-PI Jim Brodie takes on an elusive group of killers hunting for a long-lost treasure with a dangerous history.
After wading through the tragedy of San Francisco s Japantown murders, struggling antiques dealer Jim Brodie is back in Japan for a well-earned vacation. But checking in at the PI firm Brodie inherited from his father, he immediately acquires a new case: a Japanese World War II veteran shows up and spins a dark story connected to the war and a pair of violent home invasions committed in the Tokyo only days earlier.
Brodie agrees to provide protection for the old warrior, but soon an unexpected murder shocks him and his crew, and they begin a wild ride through the worlds of war atrocities, Japanese kendo clubs, the backstreets of Yokohama s unfathomable Chinatown, and Chinese spies. With the crusty PI Noda at his side, Brodie pokes around where he s not wanted, and when a friend is delivered up to him in pieces Brodie is once again running for his life while seeking the answers he needs to save it.
January 2016 Selection: It's not easy being Ben Kella. As a sergeant in the Solomon Islands Police Force, as well as an aofia, a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of the Lau people, he is viewed with distrust by both the indigenous islanders and the British colonial authorities. In
the past few days he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cargo cult uprising, and failed to find an American anthropologist who had been scouring the mountains for a priceless pornographic icon. Then, at a mission station, Kella discovers an independent and rebellious young American nun, Sister Conchita, secretly trying to bury a skeleton. The unlikely pair of Kella and Conchita are forced to team up to solve a series of murders that tie into all these other strange goings-on. Set in the 60's in one of the most beautiful and dangerous areas of the South Pacific, Devil-Devil launches an exciting new series.
November 2015 Selection:Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field--and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he's been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana's capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman--a promising medical student--has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu's indigenous language, so he's the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider's interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother's inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student's haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.
October 2015 Selection: Book two in the action-packed crime series set in Nairobi featuring an American cop teamed up with a Kenyan partner. When a bomb explodes in a downtown Nairobi hotel, private detectives Ishmael and Odhiambo quickly make the connection to a murder case they're investigating. But the CIA and the local police claim the bombing was the work of Al Qaeda, though it's clear to Ishmael and Odhiambo that something else is going on. They're under pressure to back off from the investigation, until a startling act of violence tips the scales--and the detectives take off on a round-the-globe pursuit of the shadowy forces that appear to be behind it all. With Kenya riven by ethnic violence following the disputed elections of 2007, and Obama on the campaign trail in the United States, Ishmael, an American cop who'd made a new life for himself in Africa, confronts a changed world, where everything he thought he knew gets thrown into doubt--and the only way to find the answers is to go to extremes.
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.