OK, how many of you knew this is International Crime Month?
But now that we both know, let’s celebrate it.
According to the International Crime Month website, it is “a month-long initiative featuring internationally acclaimed crime fiction authors, editors, critics, and publishers appearing together in a series of readings, panels and discussions. Four of America’s most influential independent publishers—Grove Atlantic, Akashic Books, Melville House, and Europa Editions—have joined forces to promote one of the most vital and socially significant fiction genres of our time.”
Sounds good to me.
The month—sorry but I dislike the word “initiative” —will highlight new titles from Europa’s recently launched World Noir imprint, Melville House’s International Crime series, Akashic’s “Noir” series, and Grove Atlantic’s Mysterious Press imprint.
International Crime Month began the last week of May with events at Bookcourt and Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and a panel discussion at Book Expo America with editors from those four publishers, including Morgan Entrekin (Grove Atlantic), Michael Reynolds (Europa Editions), Dennis Johnson (Melville House), and Johnny Temple (Akashic Books).
That panel sounds as if it was quite interesting, according to a report by Shelf Awareness.
And there are more events scheduled for this month.
According to Shelf Awareness, Entrekin recalled that when he first took over Grove years ago, he knew the press had an “illustrious history” with translated works and he wanted to continue that tradition. “I am very committed to publishing literature in translation, and I'm committed to finding more crime fiction in translation.”
“Crime fiction has always been a part of what we've done at Europa,” he said in the Shelf Awareness posting.
And more from Shelf Awareness: Reynolds observed that while initially publishing those novels as part of the general list had been a “noble ideal,” more recently “we realized we needed to brand our crime fiction in some way.” The result of that decision is the World Noir series. Because Europa considers crime fiction important, “we're engaged in an ongoing conversation with readers and booksellers,” he said.
Since I enjoy mysteries of all kinds, I am especially fond of the work being published by Akashic.
This publisher does a fantastic job with its Noir short story collections that take the reader around the world. These are some of the best short story compilations including Miami Noir, San Diego Noir, Chicago Noir, Boston Noir, etc.
And with the international theme, there also are Noirs set in Istanbul, London, Moscow, Barcelona, among others.
To celebrate International Crime Month, here are some international novels I have recently read.
Some are out now, others will be coming out in the fall.
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus (Germany)
Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black (Paris)
Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr (Germany, historical)
Original Skin David Mark (England)
A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Denmark)
Farewell to Freedom by Sara Blaedel (Denmark)
Beggar’s Opera by Peggy Blair (Cuba)
Hour of the Rat by Lisa Brackman (China)
Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (Paris)
Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland)
Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand (England, Iceland)
Phantom by Jo Nesbo (Norway)
Broken Harbor by Tana French (Ireland)
Safe House by Chris Ewan (Isle of Man)
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (England)
Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft (Sweden)
Stonemouth by Iain Banks (Scotland)
Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves (England)
Dead Water by Anne Cleeves (Shetland Islands)
Lost by S.J. Bolton (England)
Proof of Guilt and A Question of Honor by Charles Todd (both England, WWI era)
And anything by Val McDermid, Mark Billingham or Peter Robinson (England)
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Series 1. Acorn Media. 13 episodes, 4 discs. 706 minutes, plus bonus interviews. Blu-ray and DVD, $59.99
Kerry Greenwood’s delightful Phryne Fisher novels make a smooth and equally charming transition to film in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, an Australian TV series now available on DVD or Blu-ray.
Set during the 1920s in Melbourne, Australia, the series features the professional and personal life of Phryne Fisher, an adventurous “lady detective” expertly played by Essie Davis.
Davis (The Girl With a Pearl Earring) with her Louise Brooks bob and never-mussed lipstick embodies the Phryne of Greenwood’s 19 novels, which are published by Poisoned Pen Press in the United States. Each of the 13 episodes is based on one of Greenwood’s novels, and despite a few differences, they keep the foundation of novels.
Davis’ chemistry with the rest of the cast keeps the series on track. Although there are differences between the characters in the novels and in the film, each actor captures the spirit of Greenwood’s characters. The cast includes Nathan Page as Det. Insp. Jack Robinson, Ashleigh Cummings as the maid Dot Williams and Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Constable Hugh Collins.
The Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are as deceptive as the novels.
Sure, this is the Roarin’ 20s, and Melbourne is caught up in the Jazz Age, the new fashions with the raised hemlines and the bobbed hair. Nightlife thrives and the liquor freely flows.
But the plots are as contemporary as if they took place during the 21st Century. Issues that we deal with today haven’t really changed during the past 100-plus years: drug abuse, abusive marriages, sexual harassment, abortion, abandoned children and homophobia.
The Honourable Phryne Fisher is a wealthy aristocrat who can fly a plane, shoot a gun and boldly go wherever she wants. But Phryne didn’t grow up rich. She was born into a poor family but eventually inherited her title and future. She joined the French women’s ambulance unit during WWI and even received a reward for bravery.
Because of her background, Phryne understands and empathizes with the working class more than she does the upper class. As a result, her loyal team who help run her household and her investigations are a maid, a butler, a runaway girl and two taxi drivers.
Phryne represents the change in society following WWI, which saw the rise of women’s rights and the blurring of the class system.
The Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are beautifully filmed with an expert eye toward the details of life in post WWI. Davis’ costumes are exquisite.
The Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries have been picked up for a second season. Fans of the novels will find much to like in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and fans of the film will want to read every one of Greenwood’s novels.
CAPTION: Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher and Nathan Page as Det. Insp. Jack Robinson. Acorn Media photo