Best Crime Fiction in Translation Books of 2017

I’ve just finished writing my article for my Top 5 Crime Novels for Crime Fiction Lover, so I won’t repeat the ones that I mention there, as they will be available shortly on that website. However, I’ve read and enjoyed far more crime fiction than I had room to praise there. So here is an excuse to mention a few others that have caught my fancy this year. In fact, this post threatened to become so long, that I have split it up into crime fiction in translation and in English.

Part 1 is translated crime and I point out the setting for each book and of course the translator, have links to the full reviews (in some cases, they are quite brief) and try to sum them up with a short phrase.

Ragnar Jonasson: Whiteout – Iceland,  transl. Quentin Bates – country house murder with frozen cliffs, a lighthouse and oodles of atmosphere

Pascal Garnier: Low Heights – France & Switzerland, transl. Melanie Florence – an infuriating old invalid and his patient nurse, trying to escape the past, trying to build a future, with slightly more optimism than is common in Garnier

Antti Tuomainen: The Mine – Finland, transl. David Hackston – betrayal, conspiracies, frozen north and ecology, from an author I will be mentioning again in my Top 5 for CFL

Andrée A. Michaud: Boundary – US/Canadian border, transl. Donald Winkler – slow-paced but allowed me to become steeped in atmosphere of suspicious neighbours in holiday homes

Kjell Ola Dahl: Faithless – Norway, transl. Don Bartlett – good old-fashioned detecting without a trace of boredom

Antonin Varenne: Retribution Road – London, US, Burma, transl. Sam Taylor – epic saga, both violent and subtle, the kind of thing TV’s Taboo promised to be but sadly didn’t live up to its promise (although I still love Tom Hardy)

I am somewhat disappointed that I stuck to the Northern hemisphere this year and want to try and broaden my geographical horizons next year. What about you, what translated crime fiction stayed with you? I know not all of you are fans of the genre, but I’d say at least 3 from the list above are crime in name only and deserve a wider audience.


17 thoughts on “Best Crime Fiction in Translation Books of 2017”

  1. I was hoping to see such a list coming from you, Marina 🙂 “The Mine” and “Whiteout” are the ones that piqued my interest the most, but they all sound so very interesting.

    I haven’t had a very good reading year overall, and as for crime fiction I only managed to read 2 British, 1 Japanese and 1 Greek novel. And yet again I have failed in starting Ian Rankin’s Rebus series!

    1. Well, of course this kind of list is one of my favourites – you know my love of crime and international writing! But don’t worry about a reading slump this year, we all have times when reading seems secondary and life takes over. But if you are moving to Edinburgh, then Rebus is a must…

  2. These all look great, Marina Sofia. I’m especially intrigued by the Michaud, as I don’t think the Canadian/US border is explored as much as it could be. And I also have my eye on the Tuomainen; he’s really quite talented.

    1. I thought the Michaud book captured very well the tensions between two different language communities, without it becoming overly intrusive. But it’s slower moving than your usual crime fiction novel, so it might not appeal to all readers (possibly to you though!)

  3. Thanks for the great list, Marina Sofia. My top translated crime this year: a tie between Antii Tuomainen’s The Man Who Died (Finland – lots of humour, which is difficult to translate, so hats off to David Hackston) and Masako Togawa’s The Master Key (Japan – always grateful to see Japanese crime come to us courtesy of clever translators like Simon Cove). Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. Isn’t The Man Who Died brilliant? It was probably my favourite crime fiction read of the year, Coen brothers mixed with Frank Capra. I haven’t read any Japanese crime this year, more’s the pity!

  4. A mouthwatering selection, of course. As with Margot, it’s the Andrée A. Michaud that leaps out at me, precisely because it’s out of my usual comfort zone, although I see you have reservations about the translation (which may be why the book didn’t entice me in the same way when I read your original review). Anyway, off to make a nuisance of myself at the library . . .

    1. Well, if you do get a chance to read it, let me know what you think. It wasn’t glaringly awful as a translation, but I do wish I could have read it in the original French (and had it signed in Lyon – but I was foolish and didn’t make an effort).

  5. I read Low Heights and liked it although it isn’t my fav. Garnier. Also read Snowblind from Ragnar Jonasson. Frederid Dard’s The Executioner Weeps is high up there on the list for translated crime fiction this year.

    1. No, I wouldn’t say it was my favourite Garnier, although I couldn’t resist the location (having lived in that area myself). I have to read the Dard – it’s sitting there innocently on my Kindle, just waiting to be picked up.

  6. The one that stayed with me is Harmoniques by Marcus Malte and Comme un blues by Anibal Malvar.

    Now you need a post with Best Crime Fiction Translation Tragedies. 🙂

  7. I’ve been much better at reading Crime fiction this year (though much worse at blogging so my genre achievements haven’t been well recorded). I think my favourite was ‘Six Four’ by Hideo Yokomaya, which first caught my attention with its shocking pink page edging. The books in your list are a great place to start as I look forward to reading more next year – and hopefully getting round to sharing more too 🙂

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