Published Date: 25 November 2007 in Scotland on Sunday
PARIS NOIR: CAPITAL CRIME FICTION
Serpent’s Tail, £8.99
As owner of Murder One, London’s cult bookshop for crime, Maxim Jakubowski aptly launched the Capital Crime series with London Noir. Brought up in France, Paris was an obvious choice for a sequel. The mix of authors is eclectic: English-writing authors had to have lived/studied/spent time in Paris, while the French authors are personal friends or authors admired by the editor. Those written by the French writers offer a grittier picture of the city, such as Dominique Sylvain’s ‘Heatwave’ about a murder during the Tour de France in 2003. The English-speaking writers, John Harvey and John Williams among them, mainly dwell on individual psychoses.
Also try: Fred Vargas (trans. Sian Reynolds), Have Mercy On Us All
CRIMINI: THE BITTER LEMON BOOK OF ITALIAN CRIME FICTION
Edited by Giancarlo De Cataldo; translated by Andrew Brown
Bitter Lemon, £8.99
Italian mafia and political crime are often seen in Britain as the other extreme of Italy’s under-the-olive-tree, mandolin and pizza culture, so a collection of Italian crime fiction might seem long overdue. However, Italian noir is a relatively new phenomenon. The brutal reality of the “years of lead” was first re-examined by De Cataldo, the editor of this anthology, in Romanzo Criminale, now an excellent film. Contributors include Niccolo Ammaniti (I’m Not Scared) and Andrea Camilleri (the Inspector Montalbano series), and authors who deserve to be better known to English readers, such as Carlo Lucarelli and Massimo Carlotto. This should be compulsory reading as a counterweight to bland TV series such as Francesco’s Italy.
Also try: Gianrico Carofiglio (trans. Patrick Creagh), Involuntary Witness; Andrea Camilleri (trans. Stephen Sartarelli), The Excursion To Tindari
© Lucinda Byatt