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.
May 2021 Selection:
"In the 1960s 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a large party at the Aosawas, owners of a prominent clinic in an ancient castle city on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only survivor is their teenage daughter Hisako, blind, beautiful, admired by all, but soon suspected of masterminding the crime"
“The hot and humid atmosphere of the coastal town almost becomes a character in itself. The fascinating result is rich and strange, utterly absorbing. Onda makes you aware of ‘another, different world below the surface of this one’.” Times London
April 2021 Selection:
In this mystery set in 1963 Saigon, two agents for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, sergeants Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, have the daunting task of stopping an assassin known as the Red Queen, who leaves a "playing card bearing a red female figure" at the scene of her crimes.
"The plot speeds along faster than the Red Queen's Vespa . . . Jurjevics brings all of it to colorful, fragrant, often ugly life . . . Brace yourself." The New York Times Book Review
March 2021 Selection: After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's tai tai, an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.
“This delightfully anachronistic series debut from playwright and occasional novelist Yu (Miss Moorthy Investigates, 2012, etc.) boasts buoyant prose and a colorful cast, led by the lovably unstoppable sleuth herself.” Kirkus Reviews
February 2021 Selection: When Jack Irish - criminal lawyer, debt collector, sports lover, horse-racing man and trainee cabinetmaker - receives a puzzling message from a jailed ex-client he's too deep in misery over his football team's latest loss to take much notice. Next thing Jack knows, the ex-client's dead and he's been drawn into a life-threatening investigation involving high-level corruption, dark sexual secrets, shonky property deals, and murder. With hitmen after him, shady ex-policemen at every turn, and the body count rising, Jack needs to find out what's going on--and fast.
“Irish is tough and resourceful, yes, but it's the way Temple brings out his fear, desire, humor, and self-doubt that ranks him among the most interesting series heroes. Read the seven-page opening chapter, as entertaining an introduction as you are likely to find in crime fiction, and you'll be hooked.” Booklist
January 2021 Selection: When a young mother is brutally murdered (it seems to be a professional job), Sam Shephard, the young sole-charge police constable in Mataura, is at the heart of the police hunt to find the killer. After Sam is removed from the case, she can't stop herself making murder inquiries that get her into serious trouble with her superiors and put her in real physical danger.
“Overkill is Symon's first novel, but it reads like the polished effort of a genre veteran. More, please.” - Booklist
October 2020 Selection: Jonas works for the UK secret service as an intelligence analyst. When his father is kidnapped and held for ransom by ISIS gunmen in Syria, he takes matters into his own hands and begins to steal the only currency he has access to: secret government intelligence.
"A compelling story of our times, beautifully written and told with all the authority and authenticity of an insider familiar with the complex and dangerous terrain." Peter Taylor
September 2020 Selection: Syria, 1970. Michael Howell has kept his family's Middle Eastern business enterprises going through a decade of takeovers, war, and revolution. One late night at the office, he discovers men working overtime, producing unauthorized bombs for the Palestine Action Force which will enlist his unwilling help in carrying out their plan.
"[A] complex exploration of power, responsibility, and identity in the modern high-tech world. . . . [Ambler's works are] political novels of a high order." The Washington Post
August 2020 Selection: "Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, Death Comes in through the Kitchen is a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery that reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution, complete with authentic Cuban recipes.
August 2020 Selection:
"[Dovalpage] creates a mélange of clashing cultures, multilayered deception, even traditional Cuban recipes, that are both entertainment and a revealing exposé of how a strangled society bypasses laws to survive, and dare to enjoy, daily life." Booklist
July 2020 Selection: When a young journalist named Bernardo Blanco is killed in the fictional Mexican port city of Paracuan, investigation into his murder reveals missing links in a disturbing multiple homicide case from twenty years earlier.
"Solares's debut deftly treads a risky tightrope between police procedural and surreal fantasy . . . this haunting novel forces readers to confront that bedeviling paradox of human nature, the eternal mystery of wickedness." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
June 2020 Selection: Inspector Albertus Beeslaar has left the ruthless city only to have his hopes of finding peace and quiet in the Kalahari shattered by the brutal murder of artist Freddie Swarts and her adopted daughter. But Freddie's sister Sara isn't convinced that this was a typical farm attack. Amid a spate of stock thefts, Beeslaar must solve this high-profile crime, all the while training his two rookie partners, Ghaap and Pyl.
" Weeping Waters is a deeply moving detective story [...] The story is unhurried, at times downright slow, as the tapestry of people and culture is woven, a weakness overcome by the tale's rich characterization, particularly that of Beeslaar, and the mystery's satisfying conclusion." Mystery Scene
March 2020 Selection: In the Swedish criminal justice system, certain cases are considered especially strange and difficult, in Malmö, the dedicated detectives who investigate these crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Sensitive Crimes Division.
These are their stories.
The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Who would perpetrate such a crime and why? Next: a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. But how on earth do you search for someone who doesn't exist? And in the final investigation: eerie secrets that are revealed under a full moon may not seem so supernatural in the light of day. No case is too unusual, too complicated, or too, well insignificant for this squad to solve.
The team: Ulf "the Wolf" Varg, the top dog, thoughtful and diligent; Anna Bengsdotter, who's in love with Varg's car (and possibly Varg too); Carl Holgersson, who likes nothing more than filling out paperwork; and Erik Nykvist, who is deeply committed to fly fishing.
With the help of a rather verbose local police officer, this crack team gets to the bottom of cases other detectives can't or won't bother to handle. Equal parts hilarious and heartening, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a tour de farce from a true master.
February 2020 Selection: Hella Mauzer was the first ever woman Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit. But her superiors deemed her too 'emotional' for the job and had her reassigned. Now, two years later, she is working in Lapland for the Ivalo police department under Chief Inspector Järvi, a man more interested in criminal statistics and his social life than police work. They receive a letter from Irja Waltari, a priest's wife from the village of Käärmela on the Soviet border, informing them of the disappearance of Erno Jokinen, a local. Hella jumps at the chance to investigate. Järvi does not think that a crime is involved. After all, people disappear all the time in the snows of Finland. When she arrives, Hella stays the village priest and his wife, who have taken in Erno's grandson who refuses to tell anyone his grandfather's secret. A body is then discovered in the forest and she realizes that she was right; a crime has been committed. A murder. But what Hella doesn't know, is that the small village of Käärmela is harbouring another crime, a crime so evil, it is beyond anything any of them could have ever imagined.
January 2020 Selection: Having left the Faroes as a child, Jan Reyna is now a British police detective, and the islands are foreign to him. But he is drawn back when his estranged father is found unconscious with a shotgun by his side and someone else's blood at the scene. Then a man's body is washed up on an isolated beach. Is Reyna's father responsible?
Looking for answers, Reyna falls in with local detective Hjalti Hentze. But as the stakes get higher and Reyna learns more about his family and the truth behind his mother's flight from the Faroes, he must decide whether to stay, or to forsake the strange, windswept islands for good.
November 2019 Selection: Brilliant neo-noir from one of the greatest post-war writers of German
A respected professor is dead - shot in a crowded Zurich restaurant, in front of dozens of witnesses. The murderer calmly turned himself in to the police. So why has he now hired a lawyer to clear his name? And why has he chosen the drink-soaked, disreputable Sp&aauml;t to defend him?
As he investigates, Sp&aauml;t finds himself obsessed, drawn ever deeper into a case of baffling complexity until he reaches a deadly conclusion: justice can be restored only by a crime. This is a captivating neo-noir classic from
the master of the genre.
The Execution of Justice is a dark, wicked satire on the legal system and a disturbing, if ambivalent, allegory on guilt, justice, violence and morality.
October 2019 Selection: "Swiss Vendetta is a true page turner. From the cook and maids to the Marquise and her family, de Hahn captures the nuances of her characters' backgrounds and perspectives. I found the plot fascinating, and de Hahn builds the tension and suspense perfectly to a satisfying conclusion. I was left wanting to read more about Agnes, and I am looking forward to her next adventure!"--Charles Todd
Inspector Agnes Lüthi, a Swiss-American police officer in Lausanne, Switzerland, has just transferred to the Violent Crimes unit from Financial Crimes to try to shed all reminders of her old life following her husband's death. Now, on the eve of the worst blizzard Lausanne has seen in centuries, Agnes has been called to investigate her very first homicide case. On the lawn of the grand Château Vallotton, at the edge of Lac Léman, a young woman has been found stabbed to death. The woman, an appraiser for a London auction house, had been taking inventory at the château, a medieval fortress dripping in priceless works of art and historical treasures.
Agnes finds it difficult to draw answers out of anyone--the tight-lipped Swiss family living in the château, the servants who have been loyal to the family for generations, the aging WWII survivor who lives in the neighboring mansion, even the American history student studying at the Vallotton château's library. As the storm rages on, roads become impassible, the power goes out around Lausanne, and Agnes finds herself trapped in the candlelit halls of the château with all the players of the mystery, out of her depth in her first murder case and still struggling to stay afloat after the death of her husband.
September 2019 Selection: September 1940: the Spanish Civil War is over, Madrid lies in ruin, while the Germans continue their march through Europe, and General Franco evades Hitler's request that he lead his broken country into yet another war. Into this uncertain world comes a reluctant spy for the British Secret Service, sent to gain the confidence of Sandy Forsyth, an old school friend turned shady Madrid businessman. Meanwhile, an ex-Red Cross nurse is engaged in a secret mission of her own. Through this dangerous game of intrigue, C. J. Sansom's riveting tale conjures a remarkable sense of history unfolding and the profound impact of impossible choices.
August 2019 Selection: Who is killing the celebrated bouquinistes of Paris? Max--an elderly Paris bookstall owner--is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper. Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold? On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes. Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins. With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy's lair. Just as the killer intended.
July 2019 Selection: Commissaire Georges Dupin, a cantankerous, Parisian-born caffeine junkie recently relocated from the glamour of Paris to the remote (if picturesque) Breton coast, is dragged from his morning croissant and coffee to the scene of a curious murder. The local village of Pont-Aven--a sleepy community by the sea where everyone knows one other and nothing much seems to happen--is in shock. The legendary ninety-one-year-old hotelier Pierre-Louis Pennec, owner of the Central Hotel, has been found dead.
A picture-perfect seaside village that played host to Gaugin in the nineteenth century, Pont-Aven is at the height of its tourist season and is immediately thrown into uproar. As Dupin delves into the lives of the victim and the suspects, he uncovers a web of secrecy and silence that belies the village's quaint image.
A delectable read, Jean-Luc Bannalec's Death in Brittany transports readers to the French coast, where you can practically smell the sea air and taste the perfectly cooked steak frites in an expertly crafted, page-turning mystery for fans of Martin Walker.
June 2019 Selection: A new atmospheric Italian mystery novel set in Lake Como, introducing the clever and captivating Inspector Stefania Valenti
During the construction of a new road to the Swiss border in the mountains above Lake Como, the remains of a young man are unearthed on the powerful Cappelletti family's property. On the case is Stefania Valenti, forty-five, divorced with a young daughter, and a brilliant, determined police inspector.
Her investigation takes her back to World War II and deep into the history of the region, a place that during the war attracted smugglers, deserters, secret agents, and fleeing Jews. Steeped in the beautiful atmosphere of Northern Italy, Valenti's investigation brings to light a family's secret, a tragic romance, and reveals a fascinating piece of Italian history.
May 2019 Selection: On her sixtieth birthday, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. But Sicily isn't quite the tranquil island she thought it would be. When her handsome young handyman goes missing--and is discovered murdered--she can't help but ask questions. Soon there's an investigation, a smoldering police inspector, a romantic entanglement, one false lead after another, a rooftop showdown, and finally, of course, Poldi herself, slightly tousled but still perfectly poised. This "masterly treat" ( Times Literary Supplement) will transport you to the rocky shores of Torre Archirafi, to a Sicily full of quirky characters, scorching days, and velvety nights, alongside a protagonist who's as fiery as the Sicilian sun.
April 2019 Selection: In this tense, gripping novel by a star of Korean literature, Oghi has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife's life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her only child. Oghi is neglected and left alone in his bed. His world shrinks to the room he lies in and his memories of his troubled relationship with his wife, a sensitive, intelligent woman who found all of her life goals thwarted except for one: cultivating the garden in front of their house. But soon Oghi notices his mother-in-law in the abandoned garden, uprooting what his wife had worked so hard to plant and obsessively digging larger and larger holes. When asked, she answers only that she is finishing what her daughter started.
A bestseller in Korea, The Hole is a superbly crafted and deeply unnerving novel about the horrors of isolation and neglect in all of its banal and brutal forms. As Oghi desperately searches for a way to escape, he discovers the difficult truth about his wife and the toll their life together took on her.
March 2019 Selection: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women's legal rights especially important to her.
Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X--meaning she probably couldn't even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah--in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger.
Inspired in part by the woman who made history as India's first female attorney, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp new sleuth.