Because of my obsession with mapping my books this year, I've been trying to find more books set in unusual countries. That reminded me that way back in 2012 I wrote a post titled "Around the World in 15 Mysteries". Since then I've found so many good authors that I'm going to update it to 35 this time. So pull up your armchair, and get ready for a whirlwind world tour. Highlighted titles are links to my reviews, images are affiliate links, in case you want to buy the book!
First, James Church's Inspector O series gives an intriguing peek into the secretive world of North Korea. Poor O doesn't stand much of a chance against the secretive bureaucracy. Facing similar government pressure in the tense world of 1930s Soviet Russia is Captain Alexei Korolev in William Ryan's The Darkening Field and The Twelfth Department. Another Communist-era series I enjoy are Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries set in 1970s Laos.
Most of you probably already know that Scandinavia is chock full of great mystery authors, including Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbø, Anne Holt. Sweden includes my two favorite Scandinavians: Henning Mankell, who has written a whole series starring the fantastic Kurt Wallander, and great standalones like The Man From Beijing, and Camilla Läckberg, whom we all know that I adore. I'm also a big fan of several Icelandic authors, including Arnaldur Indridason and Michael Ridpath.
Ireland and the United Kingdom also offer lots of great mysteries. There are some amazing Irish authors like Tana French and Adrian McKinty. Scotland has the incomparable Ian Rankin - I love both the semi-alcoholic, in-your-face Detective Inspector John Rebus and the polite, teetotaler Malcolm Fox. In England I adore Elizabeth George's series starring Scotland Yard Inspector Lynley, and you also can't go wrong with Peter Lovesey's Inspector Diamond series (which are set in Bath), or Ann Cleeves' Shetland Quartet. Historically speaking, my favorites are C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series and Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. But Deborah Crombie's Duncan and Gemma series are my favorite of all.
Fred Vargas, has written a whole set of mysteries starring the spacey but brilliant Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. The Adamsberg books are mostly set in Paris, but Benjamin Cooker, the "winemaker detective", solves crimea in Bordeaux. Germany's Nele Neuhaus and Austria's Ursula Archer round out central Europe nicely.
In the warmer parts of Europe, Spike Sanguinetti is exasperated in Gibraltar, Jasob Webster's Max Camara is busy dope-smoking, and crime-solving in Valencia, while Antonio Hill's gloomy Hector Salgado is irresistible in his Barcelona setting. Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti - a refreshingly happy married man and empathetic detective - ruminates at length about the state of his beloved Venice. And Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano is also a lot of fun, in a grumpy, profane, Sicilian sort of way. Next door in Greece (but a few millennia earlier) Nicolaos, older brother to Socrates, is trying to get his investigative career up and running.
In the rest of the world, Argentinian Police Superintendent Venancio "Perro" Lascano got gunned down by corrupt fellow officers, and has to work from outside the establishment to find justice. New Zealand's Tito Ihaka is busy solving crime in his own odd and iconic style in Auckland. In Jamaica, curious bartender Shadrack Myers is pretty sure that something shady is happening in Largo Bay.
This is just a small sampling of the international mysteries I love, I know I'm missing some great ones!
Did I leave out any of your favorites?