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Part II: Explore the world’s vast expanses from the comforts of your own home
By Chris Wright
In last month’s library column, we talked about Euro-centric crime/mystery fiction. This month we’ll take a journey together that expands across the globe with stops on three continents.
Here are some from around the globe that can be found at the Dana Point Library.
South America-Brazil: Crime novelist Leighton Gage died in 2013. He came to writing late in life but we are lucky he left us seven Inspector Mario Silva novels about crime in Brazil.
Mario Silva is with the federal police and is a graduate of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. He is a pragmatist who gets things done despite his politically-appointed masters. He’s incorruptible and has assembled a team that gets things done. These are dark, page-turning and noir-ish stories that take readers all over Brazil. They certainly don’t do much for tourism, but no one escapes from Mario Silva.
Another interesting series set in Rio de Janeiro is the Inspector Espinosa series by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, who is a college professor of philosophy. Inspector Espinosa is a bibliophile and his cases are marked not by carnage but by a subtle style and psychological vagueness.
You’re never quite sure what is what. This series is intriguing and filled with different plots, and you will just love Espinosa’s apartment filled with books stacked on end in a corner.
Middle East: Perhaps the best series you’ve never heard about is Inspector Ikmen of Istanbul, Turkey. It’s written by Barbara Nadel and there are now 15 books in the series.
Ikmen is a chain-smoking secular Turk married to a devout Muslim woman. He has a brood of adult children who keep him both grounded and unsettled. You learn much about Turkish culture and history in this series and Ikmen sometimes travels around the country and abroad. Two adventures take place in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Palestine is a most unusual location for a mystery series and it involves not a policeman but an educator. Omar Yussef administers a United Nations school in Palestine and always seems to be in the wrong or right place, depending on how you view it.
This is an entertaining series set in the contemporary Middle East that manages to be informative without being partisan. The series is written by Matt Rees and there are only four to read.
Africa: Kwei Quartey is a doctor living in Southern California who loves to write about his father’s homeland of Ghana. His Darko Dawson series just had its third book published in March, Murder at Cape Three Points. Darko is a good man with great instincts. Vivid descriptions abound that show people persevering in the midst of poverty without generating sympathy or pity.
In the second book, Children of the Street, you want him desperately to succeed in finding who is killing some of the “worthless” street children in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
Another series by Deon Meyer set in the new South Africa features Inspector Bennie Griessel, a white detective, who is learning how to work in the newly integrated police force of Mandela’s South Africa. These are page turning thrillers.
Meyer also writes other novels that you can’t put down. You just have to be patient and wait for them to be translated from Afrikaans. Some of the cultural idioms don’t always translate but the suspense does.
Next month we will visit Asian crime/mystery fiction.
Chris Wright is not sure if he lives to read or if he reads to live. He has been a public librarian with the OC Public Libraries since 2006.
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