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Explore the globe’s vast expanses from the comforts of your own home
By Chris Wright
If you like to travel around the world via your armchair, then police procedurals and mysteries are a perfect avenue for you to explore. Not only do they provide a great way to become familiar with another county’s culture and issues, but also, you don’t need a passport.
Here are some familiar and not too familiar series from around the globe that can be found at the Dana Point Library.
Scotland: Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series is gritty and noir-ish. Rankin retired Rebus but I guess the public demand for his return was too much. Now Rebus is back as a consultant to the police. You’ll be ready to go to Edinburgh and have some curried fish and chips after reading a few of these.
M. C. Beaton is the author of the 29-title Constable Hamish Macbeth series that is set in the Scottish countryside. This series is a little more light-hearted and not as stark and heavy as Rebus.
Sweden: Henning Mankell is the superstar of Scandinavian Crime Fiction. His Inspector Kurt Wallander series is set in Skane, Sweden which is actually closer to Copenhagen, Denmark than to Stockholm. Kurt Wallander is the quintessential policeman with the job being his life. He is divorced and is estranged from his sole child, a daughter. Mankell ended the series with Kurt but perhaps we’ll see more of the family with the daughter following in her dad’s footsteps.
Rising crime, immigration issues and loss of civil virtue are issues not unique to the United States and we see these issues play out in a Swedish environment. Another Swedish writer with a female police officer as the lead protagonist is Kjell Eriksson. His Ann Lindell series can go up and down in terms of plot and excitement.
Iceland: Arnaldur Indridason is the popular favorite of Iceland. His Inspector Erlendur series is a hidden gem. Erlendur is a rather depressing man. He is divorced and a loner but totally dedicated and unrelenting in his quest for the truth. His daughter is a drug addict. His colleagues are interesting and in several of the books take center stage and run with the case while Erlendur is on vacation.
Quentin Bates, a Brit, has a four-book series with female police officer, Officer Gunnhilder, who is quite a character and the type of person who is a natural born leader. Both of the protagonists in these two series are real, down to earth people with flaws who are both idealistic but also pragmatic. You might just want to visit Iceland now.
Ireland: Ken Bruen with the Jack Taylor series and Declan Hughes with the Ed Loy series have hit home runs. Both series are dark, noir-ish and feature flawed heroes who sometimes do what is in their self- interest and not what’s right. Ed Loy returns to Dublin after living in Los Angeles for 20 years and hooks up with all his childhood friends—both criminals and cops. Jack Taylor is on the west coast in Galway and doing whatever it takes to survive.
Australia: The Inspector Hal Challis series by Gary Disher, who also writes children’s books, is another great read. Read one and you will be hooked and going the distance for all six of them. It’s not every policeman’s wife who tries to kill him and then attempts reconciliation from prison.
Next month we’ll continue with some charming, eccentric and captivating detectives in South America, Asia and Africa.
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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