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23 crime novels and an anthology for the summer


A selection of books that have been published in 2021, great novels, recovered classics, series in good shape and a bit of escape literature make up the menu

The summer at the end has not been the explosion of liberation that we expected, so just a little recollection accompanied by the best reading does not hurt.

The selection that we bring today collects some of what has been published throughout the year and aims to cover many of the subgenres into which the crime novel is divided.

As always, it is a subjective list, based on my reading.

Sure I have left things that are worthwhile, I am sorry, but there are also others that are not there because I have read them and they are not going anywhere.

Come, read, shop, enjoy a black summer.

Kneel down


, Claudia Piñeiro

(Alfaguara). For me it is the crime novel of the year. That he has won the Dashiell Hammett in the Black Week of Gijón is only the product of a logic that is not usually given in the awards. Has it all. Literary commitment, social criticism, big issues like abortion, an investigation into that fascinating subject of memory. The plot: Lía is a woman who lives in Santiago de Compostela. 30 years earlier, his sister was found dead, dismembered and burned in a wasteland. Piñeiro reconstructs from there the crime or crimes that led Ana to die, the hypocrisy of those who hid it, the pain of those who could not solve it. And he resorts to characters from the classic policeman, wonderful that criminalist named Elmer, and others who surrounded the victim to reconstruct his life and death,a fact that destroyed a family and which he uses to go far beyond the conventional crime novel.

  • Here you can read a report with the finalists of the Black Week.

David Peace, in the Aosta Valley, Italy, in 2008.CENDAMO LEONARDO / Getty Images

Tokio Redux,

David Peace

(Tin Sheet, translation by Ignacio Gómez). For many, this is one of the most anticipated books of recent times. The closing of a dazzling trilogy that was to be tetralogy. The last criminal narrative in Japan destroyed after World War II. There is, here, a change in style, or “more Hemingway than Ellroy”, as Carlos Zanón says in the prologue —excellent opportunity, by the way, so that those who do not know this author from 1977 can delve into his work and his concerns— . We once again have the characters in which


, unforgettable Harry Sweeney

is transmuted

, now with a magnificent three-part narration. "On July 5, the Occupation had a hangover," begins Tokio Redux. Close your eyes and enjoy.

  • At BCNegra in 2019 I was lucky enough to talk to him for a long time.

    This interview sums it up.

Bones in the valley

, Tom Bouman

(Siruela, translation by Esther Cruz).

One of the best things about Siruela's elaborate black collection is the discovery of North American talents, especially in what is known as

country noir.


After Bill Panovich or a classic with Craig Johnson, now comes this first novel that won the Edgar, among other awards.

Henry Farrell is a widowed policeman, a veteran of the Somalia war who is seen and desired to face the rednecks who defend their property by shooting, do not want to pay taxes and do not recognize any authority, least of all yours.

We are in the Appalachians, deep America at the bottom, halfway between the immensity of an ungovernable nature and the business of its exploitation and destruction.

A mutilated body discovered by an old man on his property will unleash the kind of passions, discovered secrets and violence that such a novel feeds on.

  • I leave this to you in case you have been wanting more Panovich.

Real Tigres,

Mick Herron

(Salamandra Black, translation by Antonio Padilla).

That there are a handful of Brits willing that we not miss John Le Carre much is something that we have already told.

That Herron is one of the most prominent members of that group, too.

If you have read the first two of this series starring Jackson Lamb, unclassifiable character, continue.

If not, read this or all three.

They will find a unique tone, a perfect rhythm and humor in just the right doses.

Herron has had the ability to find a different tone to tell in an original way what many others have already told before.

  • Read this if you have been wanting to know more about the character.

Tana French, in Cologne in 2015.picture alliance / picture alliance via Getty Image

The explorer

, Tana French

(AdN, translation by Julia Osuna). French has been doing a bit what he wants with criminal fiction for some time and, in all cases, giving us good examples of the subgenre that transits at all times. His novels about the Dublin homicide squad are the best of the police in recent years, his psychological novel with an unreliable narrator (

The Secret of the Elm

, AdN, like the others) turns your head upside down and now, with this kind of contemporary western, he has done it again.

Cal Hooper is a retired American policeman who decides to retire to a remote town in Ireland.

Seek peace after a divorce and 25 years kicking the streets of Chicago.

The place may seem quaint to a clueless tourist, but Cal soon discovers that it has the filias, hates, and secrets of any small community.

From there, I let you continue with a novel that has it all.

  • This is Babelia's review of the book.

Jackson Brodie, we love you

In AdN they insisted at the beginning of the year to recover this character created by Kate Atkinson and who stars in some of the best pages of contemporary crime fiction. To do this, they published the, until now, last of the

Interminable Sky


, and recovered the first two in their pocket,




(all translated by Patricia Antón de Vez). The reader may be taken aback by reading the first one, in which a narrative spectacle unfolds before their eyes as they wonder where is Brodie? But the detective arrives, it is only part of Atkinson's strategy to supply us with small doses of his hero, who has nothing special but has everything of great character.


it's dazzling, and like


, it's perfectly built.

The character wears out in the following, but returns with force in

Endless Sky

, fifth in the series, the darkest, in which Brodie, now old, already tired of being deceived, already tired of his adventures, father of a young man , bored detective just comes across the case of his life.

Pleasant surprises


, Miguel Ángel Oeste (Tusquets)


A youth, the time that passes, some parents who are not, some friends who seem to be around forever, a summer.

With these ingredients, Oeste builds a novel with a short and sometimes cutting phrase that does not lose its lyricism.

A story that sounds like Los Planetas and smells of Nirvana, sweat, and adolescent spirit.

And the black?

Well, it is being glimpsed in the neighborhood life, in the violence and drugs that sneak into the protagonist's life journey, as business or evasion, in what is silent about the death of his mother, in what they try to do to have a future.

  • Is this a generation without a voice?

    Read the report of my colleague Laura Fernández in Babelia and tell me.

Urgent causes

, Paula Rodríguez (Alfaguara)

. This book, also a finalist in the Silverio Cañada of the Black Week, is one of the pleasant surprises of these months. A train accident gives Hugo Lamadrid, a survivor, alleged murderer, a recognized criminal and not very skilled, the opportunity to flee from the police and, perhaps, pretend to be dead. This plot budget, led by Rodríguez, plunges us into a quick narrative in which we meet Hugo's wife and daughter, puzzled and also relieved to get rid of that disaster, and other members of the criminal clan who they go hunting. Also to secondary characters (wonderful sister-in-law, Mónica, manager of a casino, home dildo seller and devout religious), an impossible policeman for his love of work and his bosses, more real, who are looking for, they are not the only ones,benefit in the disaster of others. All very well connected in a reading that lasts little and is very enjoyable.

Lee Child, fists out

One such happy event that occurs in this crazy world of books was the adventure of the Argentine publisher Blatt and Ríos to recover and re-translate Lee Child's novels.

Do you want a well-narrated action?

Do you want a guilty pleasure that, incidentally, leads you to read a good book?

Do you want adventures and become fond of a guy over two meters and 100 kilos, with a slightly long hand and just the right amount of melancholy?

This is Jack Reacher.

The latest published is number 24 and last in the series, Luna azul (translation by Aldo Giacometti).

Yes, because good old Child is retiring.

They can start with this one and go backwards, or take any other.

In this same editorial last year, you are not Tomorrow and the stories gathered in Hot Night were published.

Beach and pool books, and something else.

  • Here is a report on the fascination it generates among intellectuals.

A kind look


, Joachim B. Schmidt

(Gatopardo, translation by Paula Aguiriano). Kalmann Ódinsson is not like the others (imagine, I think the analogy is inevitable, to an Icelandic Forrest Gump but who, as he himself says, neither runs a lot nor plays ping pong well). We are in Raufarhöfn, in the middle of empty Iceland, more than 700 kilometers north of Reykjavik, a town that experienced a fishing boom and that, depleted of mana, survives anyway. There Kalmann, with his particular gaze, is going to try to know what has happened to the pool of blood that is in the middle of the snow, almost at the same time that a guy dedicated to unclear business disappears. Kalmann is an expert marksman, he likes to hunt, but he is disguised as a Los Angeles sheriff and carries a pistol that does not work. His grandfather, who for him is his life, taught him the values ​​he handles,but the man has Alzheimer's and Kalmann's attachment to life deteriorates. There is a crime to solve, but that is only a small part of this huge novel


The Adventures of Agatha Raisin


Salamandra brings the first two installments of this huge worldwide success written by MC Beaton (actually, the Scottish Marion Chesney, who died in 2019). Escape literature for hard times. We meet the protagonist in Agatha Raisin y la quiche lettal (translation by Vicente Campos): a woman who has already passed 50 and very particular. Someone might say that they are unscrupulous, and they would be right. When she retires to a town in the Costwolds she collides with the reality of a town that has nothing to do with the idea that the urbanite has made. He collides with that and with a dead man, poisoned after tasting his quiche. Will it solve it? Will he be able to prove his innocence? You can already imagine the answer. But those looking for something nice, like Thursday crime club,that they read it and that they do not tell me that they do not want to go for the second, Agatha Raisin and the cruel vet.

The anthology

Victorian Villains, edited by Michael Sims

(Siruela, translated by Raquel García).

If before we talked about his discoveries in country noir, let's now turn to the collection of classics that Siruela is publishing rigorously and tirelessly.

In this case, an anthology of very bad, but funny baddies, made by one of the greatest experts in the United States and in which another great expert has collaborated, my dear Otto Penzler.

Sims proposes an evasive reading in two ways: go to a world without televisions, mobile phones or airplanes and have a good time with quality stories.

"My intention has been, at all times, that it be read as a festive excursion into the past," he says in the prologue.

Oh, and if you like, head over to

Victorian Detectives



The pioneers of the detective novel, same anthologist and same publisher.

Of battered women and monsters

You are dead, nothing can harm you


Nicola Maye Goldberg

(RBA, translation by Juan Pascual Martínez).

In this novel that reminds me so much, due to the treatment of the victim,

Laëtitia or the end of men

from Ivan Jablonka, we know from the very first pages that Sara has been slit her throat by her boyfriend. What Goldberg does is bring us closer to the figure of the victim through the effect that his death has had on other lives (his sister, his father, a journalist who is obsessed with the case, a friend of the murderer, etc). The construction of the book, in the form of short stories that end about halfway through - pure Carver style, which is also related to his portrait of contemporary dissatisfaction - helps to have a complete perspective of the crime from various points of view. I love the approach to fear of women besieged by the macho monster. And all this supported by a police structure built with efficiency.

The basement of Oxford

, Cara Hunter

(Duomo, translation by Begoña Prat). And speaking of summer novels, here we bring one in the tradition that lately authors like Ruth Ware skilfully frequent. Namely: impeccable structure and a mechanism in which surprise is everything. What happens is that here we have all that and, also, the inspector Adam Fawley, complex and well built, who cries out for a series. And we are in Thames Valley. It has all the ingredients of a good cop and does the job.

The incidents

, Philippe Dijan

(Fulgencio Pimentel, translation by Regina López). I read this novel months ago and even when I remember it, the strange feeling that it left me persists. In France it was sold as an "existentialist thriller", you are going to know what it means. The protagonist is a 50-year-old literature professor, a cynic who, as I begin, I don't know if he's going to catch me. But then I turn pages and pages, intrigued by his conquests, fascinated by the dark relationship with his sister, amused by the description of the literary environment of the university, the attacks, the miseries of the little intellectual. And the crime? Well, of the worst kind, against the women he conquers. But it is not what they think. Or maybe yes. For those who want to read something different, obsessive.

Frank Costello, a great shadow protagonist of 'The Mobster's Lament', surrounded by fans outside the Rikers prison in 1957. New York Daily News Archive / NY Daily News via Getty Images

Two big bets on time

The lament of the mobster, Ray Celestin

(Alliance, translation by Mariano Antolín).

Third installment of one of the most admirable endeavors in the genre in recent years, Celestin takes us this time to New York in 1947. As happened in the first in New Orleans and in the second in Chicago, mafia, music and crimes they were mixed with an overwhelming knowledge of history and of the city and its time to produce brutal, excessive, illuminating, necessary novels.

If you fancy a criminal-historical hybrid, I wouldn't look any further.

  • Here is a preview of the novel in case you want to try.

The evil of Corcira

, Lorenzo Silva


Finalist of the Dashiell Hammett of Black Week in one of the best editions in memory, Silva demonstrates in the twelfth installment of the Bevilacqua and Chamarro series that he is still one of the fittest black writers in Spanish.

With the impeccable care that he always has for the procedural, this time the author of

The Impatient Alchemist

leads us to a crime that cannot be solved if the past is not understood, the conflict with ETA, the confrontation of a people, such as Corfu , or rather Corcira.

  • You can also read Carlos Pardo's criticism of this book in our literary supplement.

Some classics to finish

It has been a year of anniversaries, which is not.

At the beginning of the year the centenary of the birth of the Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt was commemorated, from whom both Tusquets and Periferia have seen fit to recover works.

Read, above all,

The Promise

, which has in its brief length all the moral concerns of this great playwright and teacher of black literature that perhaps is not talked about enough.

Leonardo Sciascia, at his home in Sicily in 1988.Sophie Bassouls / Sygma via Getty Images

The other anniversary is that of Leonardo Sciascia, for whom Tusquets has relaunched the classic

Todo Modo

(with a translation by Joaquín Jordá) accompanied by

To each his own

. This is a book about a murder and an investigation in a town in Sicily. So far, nothing normal. But the study of the characters, the forces that pull in the opposite direction to justice and the collusion of the usual with the mafia once again give a special flight to this novel by Sciascia, always so fit.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2021-07-22

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