Thursday, July 28, 2011

A newspaper's list of international crime fiction

Not so terribly long ago, the Christian Science Monitor published a list of Top 7 detective series set in foreign locales. Here's the list:

  1. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith
  2. Andrea Camilleri's novels about Salvo Montalbano.  
  3. The Dr. Siri Paiboun series, by Colin Cotterill 
  4. The Yashim the Eunuch series, by Jason Goodwin  
  5. The Omar Yussef mysteries, by Matt Beynon Rees  
  6. Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen Cao novels set in Shanghai 
  7. The Nayir Sharqi and Katya Hijazi novels, by Zoë Ferraris
 © Peter Rozovsky 2011

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10 Comments:

Blogger Philip Amos said...

This may be the first of these damn lists I've seen that, though pointless and arguable as always, has a reasonableness about it. Restricting it to a rather small number was wise. The Sunday Times 'Fifty Greatest British Writers Since 1945', to which we were treated the other day, might well have been the effort of someone who locked a chimpanzee in Foyle's overnight and then made a list out of the first fifty books picked up off the floor the next morning.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter, a fascinating list, obviously we have become so used to Scandinavian crime fiction it no longer qualifies as foreign. While Sicily looks a bit out of place among those very exotic locations. I must read the only two series that I haven't sampled yet, Matt Beynon Rees and Zoe Ferraris some time soon.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I give some credit to the Monitor for keeping Scandinavian crime off the list. It would have been so easy to pander.

Camilleri probably makes it because the books are so good and convey such a strong sense of place, and not because Sicily is so exotic. Hmm, but Camilleri does make much of its proximity to Africa, which figures in several of the books.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, an added benefit is that I have at least a passing familiarity with all the series. Interesting that no Scandinavians are on the list, and no Irish writers, either, though Ireland may not be foreign enough a locale. South Africa is an up-and-comer for future lists.

The last list I remember noting was of the top fifty crime writers of all time, prepared by, I think, the Guardian. I was only able to find two of the entries. That Dashiell Hammett was ranked as low as thirteenth surprised me, as did the declaration that he was a poor man's Chandler, known mostly for not doing what Chandler did do.

Patricia Highsmith's ranking atop the list was less puzzling.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The top-fifty list appeared in the Times rather than the Guardian. The full list is no longer online, but it ranked Ian Rankin as the ninth-greatest crime writer of all time and Dashiell Hammett as the thirteenth-greatest.

No further comment is necessary.

(Read the Times' shallow, uncomprehending assessment of Hammett here. Of course, the newspaper may not really have thought Rankin greater than Hammett. The profile of Rankin was written by then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, so I would not be shocked if flattery and sucking-up to the PM pushed Rankin up a few places.)

July 28, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Hmm. That list makes me realize I have a lot of catching up to do.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, if you find the entire list, let me know. The appropriate links in the individual author profiles I was able to find no longer work. (The list appeared several years ago, in 2008, I think.)

Another good list is Allan Guthrie's, of 200 noir novels.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, you may have meant the Monitor's more modest list.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I did, but it doesn't matter--I'm behind either way.

July 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, this is a nice, compact list, modest in its claims, with some good stuff on it, if a little less hard-boiled than my general run of crime reading.

July 28, 2011  

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