New Year & Over 40 Recommendations from the Latest SMSA Crime & Mystery Book Club

Welcome to 2016 and the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library crime & mystery book club's latest recommendations. All of them read over the holiday period. Click on the books listed below for reviews and information. Enjoy.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

Her Royal Spyness Mysteries by Rhys Bowen

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Play Dead by Bill James

The Fall of Man in Wilmslow; The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh

Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School for Villainy by Shamini Flint

Shoulder The Sky by Anne Perry

Chosen Perry by Karen Grigsby Bates

Smoke and Mirrors by Kel Robertson

Grandad, There's A Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill

City of the Dead by Sara Gran

The Marathon Conspiracy by Gary Corby

Dishing The Dirt by M.C. Beaton

Chance Developments by Alexander McCall Smith

Even Days in the Wild by Ian Rankin

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Dictator by Robert Harris

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Whites by Richard Price

The Spies of Warsaw; The Polish Officer; The World At Night by Alan Furst

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R. Green

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Looking for Rachel Wallace by Robert B Parker

The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman

Singing the Sadness by Reginald Hill

Three Crooked Kings by Matthew Condon

Red Mass by Rosemary Aubert

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges Simenon

Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer

A Morning for Flamingos by James Lee Burke

Acute Misfortune - The Life & Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen

The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

See you next month.


Mystery Novels featuring a Celebration or Festival from the SMSA Library Crime Book Club

The last set of recommendations of crime novels for the year feature a celebration or festival. The Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library Crime and Mystery Book Club meets once a month and you will be able to find next year's list of themes here at the library website - There are also some reviews done by readers.  

The Body in the Transept by Jeanne MDams             

Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander           

Michaelmas Tribute by Cora Harrison                 

Burial Rites by Hannah Alexander                         

Wycliffe and the Last Rites by W J Burley                       

The Feast of Stephen; and The Ferryman Will Be There by Rosemary Aubert                          

The Christmas Bow Murder by Bill Battison                     

St Peter’s Fair by Ellis Peters                                       

A Christmas Escape; and A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry                      

Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M C Beaton                               

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn                    

The Guilty by David Baldacci               

Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews               

Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman                                      

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C C Benison                      

Recommendations from SMSA Crime and Mystery Book Club featuring Travel

A Second Helping of Crime Novels Featuring The Theatre, TV, Film or Music

Here are some more recommendations of crime novels featuring the theatre, TV, film or music. They range from the golden age of British crime to a modern take on the 1950s. Enjoy.

The Shadow of Death, The Perils of Night by James Runcie
The Shadow of Death is a collection of short stories that introduces us to Canon Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester. It is 1953 and 32 year old bachelor Sidney is looking for a quiet life after his experiences during World War Two. Sidney becomes friends with Inspector Geordie Keating when a parishoner asks Sidney to look into the apparent suicide of her husband. The Perils of Night continues Sidney’s adventures in the mid and late 1950s and takes Sidney abroad to the Berlin and the beginning of the building of the Berlin Wall

The first series of stories have been dramatised for British TV with a series called Granchester. According to his website, James Runcie “is a writer and director. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries, Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, and a fiction reviewer for The Independent. James Runcie was born in 1959, educated at Marlborough College, Cambridge University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and lives in Edinburgh and London.”

The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid
This is a non-fiction novel about forensics and research behind solving crimes. Val McDermid is bestselling crime author who was once a journalist with the Manchester newspaper in her youth. She interviews forensic scientists and uncovers the context and history of the development of this science. From war zones to convicting murderers McDermid traces the story of forensics from its beginning in the late 1800s to modern day. An interesting read. 

Val McDermid is a prolific British writer, according to her website, "I started writing Report for Murder in 1984, and it was published by The Women's Press in 1987. The rest is history...I finally gave up the day job in April 1991, and I've been making my living by writing ever since."

Performance by Douglas Clark
Douglas Clark has written 27 Masters and Green novels starting with Nobody’s Perfect in 1969. Masters is Detective Chief Superintendent George Masters of Scotland Yard and Green is his assistant Bill Green. Performance (1985) is the 23rd novel in the series and it focuses on a series of eleven murders in the north of England. Masters and Green are sent to help the Northern Counties police with background and research into the unsolved cases. During the local performance of Handel’s Messiah, the alto soloist falls dead on stage. The twelfth victim. Masters and Green investigate.


Cool Repentance by Antonia Fraser
Cool Repentance is a Jemima Shore mystery. TV journalist Jemima Shore has been asked to present a program on the Larminster Festival (a theatre festival) and one of the main performers at the festival is Christobel Herriot, a beautiful and notorious actress who the subject of scandal and gossip. Jemima becomes involved when it becomes clear that Christobel’s life is danger at the festival after the series of murders.

British author, Antonia Fraser is known for her historical novels and biographies. Her crime fiction is focused on her Jemima Shore novels. She was made DBE in 2011 for here services to literature.

Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson
Nicola Upson has created a series of novels featuring real life crime author Josephine Tey. Fear in the Sunlight is set in 1936 in Welsh resort, Portmeirion, where Josephine Tey is celebrating her fortieth birthday. She is joined by Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville who are there to sign a film deal for Tey’s novel A Shilling for Candles. Hitchcock is keeping the party entertained with a trick about exposing people’s greatest fears. The next day one of Hollywood’s leading actresses is found brutally slashed to death in a cemetery near the village. Tey’s good friend Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Archie Penrose is on hand to help Tey solve the mystery. 

Crime & Mystery Books featuring the Theatre, TV, Film or Music

Here is the first set of recommendations for books featuring theatre, TV, film or music as a major theme or setting from the Crime and Mystery Book Club at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library.  

All My Enemies by Barry Maitland
This is a Kolla and Brock novel which begins with DS Kathy Kolla about to start a new job with the New Scotland Yard Serious Crime Division headed up by DCI David Brock. Kolla’s is assigned to her first case in the Division which involves the gruesome murder of a young woman that seems theatrical. The case leads her into a local amateur drama group and a more complex set of circumstances. 

As highlighted before on this blog, Barry Maitland was born in 1941 in Scotland. He studied architecture at Cambridge, practised and taught in the UK before moving to Australia, where he became a Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. He retired in 2000 and took up writing full-time.

A Decent Interval, So Much Blood by Simon Brett
A Decent Interval and So Much Blood, both feature the actor and amateur sleuth, Charles Paris. The Paris novels are one of four series written by Simon Brett. The others feature Mrs Pargeter, Fethering, and brother and sister - Blotto & Twinks. A Decent Interval book picks up Charles’ life when he is cast as the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father and First Gravedigger in the latest production of Hamlet. Charles finds himself one of the more experienced theatre actors in the cast with the role of Ophelia being played by the winner of a television talent show, and another reality TV contestant playing the lead role of Hamlet. What could go wrong?

In So Much Blood, Charles is in a fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival which becomes the backdrop to a gory murder involving a fading pop star. 

Steel Guitar by Linda Barnes
Linda Barnes was born in Detriot the home of Motown, and moved to Boston for college. She sets her PI Carlotta Carlyle novels in her adopted home town. In Steel Guitar, Carlotta is moonlighting as a hack driver when she picks up a fare that is a blast from the past. The fare is Carlotta’s ex-friend and former band mate Dee Willis, who has made it big on the charts. Dee hires Carlotta to find a friend and involves Carlotta in a story of blackmail, murder and stolen songwriting credit.



A Pocketful of RyeWitness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

Two of Agatha Christie’s many many novels were recommended, The Witness for the Prosecution and A Pocketful of RyeThe Witness for the Prosecution is a short story and play that was published in 1925. A Pocket Full of Rye, on the other hand, was published in 1953. It is one of her later novels featuring Miss Marple and is based on a children’s nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence.



Vintage Murder, Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh
Another Dame of Golden Age crime fiction was recommended for this theme. New Zealander Ngaio Marsh was primarily known for her Inspector Roderick Alleyn novels, a gentleman detective who works for the London Metropolitan Police. The first of her novel highlighted is Overture, which focuses on amateur actors in the village of Chipping who are putting on a production for charity when one of the cast members, wealthy spinster Idris Campanula is killed. The second novel is Vintage Murder, fifth in the Alleyn series, and it centres on a travelling theatre troupe in New Zealand.


A Three Pipe Problem by Julian Symons
This book is about Sherlock Holmes, the literary character. The story's protagonist is Sheridan Haynes, an actor, who plays Holmes in a TV series. Sheridan becomes a method actor when there are a series of unsolved murders in London and he starts to investigate. What could go wrong?

Julian Symons is an English author who has written a huge amount of books ranging subjects from social and military history to biography, criticism and crime. He was named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1982. He also succeeded Agatha Christie as the president of Britain's Detection Club.


Recommendations of Crime & Mystery Books featuring Medicine

Our theme for this meeting of the Sydney Mechanic's School of Arts' Library crime and mystery book club was anything to do with medicine or caring for others in a vocational capacity. The subjects covered include nursing, social work, dentistry and doctors at sea.

Death Duty by Clare Littleford
Published in 2004, Death Duty is Clare Littleford’s second novel. It features Jo Elliott, a social worker in Nottingham, UK. Jo has recently broken up with her partner Alex, another social worker, and is going about her day when she is the victim of what is thought to be a mugging. She begins to suspect that the mugging is not a standalone event and that she is being stalked when small things begin to go wrong or are damaged. It is a slow burn story that focuses on Jo’s life, both personal and professional, especially a case she was involved in eight years earlier involving a problem family called the Metcalfes, the stress that she and her fellow social workers are coming under from an current inquiry following the death of a child in their care, and Jo’s recent break up with Alex.

The insight into social work is most probably spot on as Clare Littleford’s used to be a social worker. According to the Book Depository, Clare was born in Bedford in 1973, and ‘used to work at Nottingham City Council, in the housing department, before taking an MA in Writing at Nottingham Trent University. She then worked for a lottery-funded community development project in inner city Nottingham.’

Operation Doctors by Holly Roth
American crime writer, Holly Roth was born in Chicago after the First World War and died in 1964 after falling off a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. Her body was never found. She wrote 24 spy and detective novels in 10 years, starting with her first novel in 1954, The Content Assignment. Roth began writing crime novels in 1957 with two novels featuring the British detective Medford. Operation Doctors is the second of those books. It is set on board a ship, off the European coast, and has a wide range of nationalities on board. It is centred around a young woman who is injured and loses her memory. One of the passengers is an American neurosurgeon and is the primary character solving the mystery. Medford the detective only features in the story in the second half. It is a slightly implausible story that is of its time. The cold war is just about a character in its own right. Roth is excellent at ratcheting up the tension and it is an interesting read.

Roth led an interesting life. The travelling her father did as part of his business, included his family, so she grew up seeing a lot of the world. She was married at age 20 and widowed the following year. She worked as a model as well as a writer for some American magazines. She wrote two of her novels under the name PJ Merrill and four as KG Ballard.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie, I know, we could not get through a meeting without a recommendation that includes Agatha Christie. This is why she is the Queen of crime writing.  One, Two, Buckle My Shoe is a Hercule Poirot story that features the death of Poirot's dentist, Henry Morley. Morely was killed by a gunshot wound and it was officially found to be a suicide. However, Poirot does not believe this to be the case and he goes on the hunt for the killer. 

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
American author,Tess Gerritsen is known for her series of novels featuring Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles (now a long running TV series, Rizzoli and Isles). Gerritsen is a qualified doctor who began writing when she was on maternity leave. she is now retired and writes full time. So she knows what she is writing about when it comes to the medical detail in her novels. In The Bone Garden Maura is working on finding out the mystery surrounding the remains of a woman discovered in the grounds of a home in rural Massachusetts. The story connects back to a previous tale of murder and cadaver trafficking in Boston in 1830. Gerritsen weaves both timelines and the two stories to a satisfying if gruesome conclusion. For lovers of crime who like quite a bit of detail in relation to the state of the body and subsequent medical findings.

Angel Without Mercy, Angel of Vengeance, Destroying Angel by Anthea Cohen
This series of 18 books which begins with Angel Without Mercy (1984) and ends with Better Dead (2005), features Agnes Carmichael, a nurse who uses accidental and not so accidental homicide as a way to right the wrongs in her world. Mean, nasty people are Agnes' victims, as she follows a code that could be compared to Jeff Lindsay's serial killer protagonist, Dexter Morgan. These novels turn the cosy British village crime novel on its head with a protagonist that acts on what most people feel about that person who deliberately drove over the neighbour's cat.  

Anthea Cohen, which is the pseudonoym for Doris Simpson, was born in 1913 and died in 2006.

Blood Work by Michael Connelly
Blood Work is the debut of retired FBI criminal profiler Terrell, 'Terry' McCaleb. While recovering from a heart transplant, Terry is drawn into the death of the person whose heart he received, which occurred during an unsolved convenience store robbery. This investigation takes him back to a previous case that involved a serial murderer called the 'code killer'. 

This is a typical Michael Connelly novel, a fast moving, plot driven thriller. It was made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood in 2002. 

Recommendations from the SMSA Crime & Mystery Book Club

The theme for this batch of recommendations is book series that you like. This theme resulted in a joyful discussion on authors and characters that ended up like a trip across Europe into North Africa.  More information on the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Crime and Mystery reading Group can be found here.

The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer (Kenneth Dakan - Translator)
The Kiss Murder (2008) is the first book in The Turkish Delight (Hop-Ciki-Yaya) series from Mehmet Murat Somer, which have been translated into English and done very well. Mehmet Murat Somer was born in Ankara, Turkey and studied and worked as an engineer before becoming a banker. In 1994 he became a management consultant. The unnamed heroine of the book is a male computer technician by day and a transvestite hostess of a nightclub in Istanbul by night and s/he becomes embroiled in the underworld of Istanbul when one of the 'girls' from the nightclub comes to him for help.  The series is described as charming and page-turning, so something to sample at least.

The Ghost Runner by Parker Bilal
Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub who writes in English. Born in London, he is the child of a British and Sudanese parents. He has lived over the years in the UK, Sudna, Cairo and Denmark. He currently lives in Barcelona. The Ghost Runner is the third novel in the Makana series, named after its lead character, Private Investigator Makana. The book is set in 2002 just as the US forces enter the West Bank after the 11 September attacks in the USA. Makana is living in Cairo at the time, in exile from his native Sudan. He is not in a good emotional space and becomes involved in looking for the murder of a teenage girl. The book follows his travels to Siwa, an oasis town on the edge of the Sahara Desert in search of the murderer.

This series highlights the everyday life of an area of the world that continues to be in turmoil from internal and external political, religious and social forces. 

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker
This debut novel from Martin Walker introduces you to  Benoît Courrèges, aka Bruno, a policeman in St Denis, a small village in present day South of France.  Bruno is aiming to have a quiet life and has chosen to live in a small village in the South of France to do just that. He is a former soldier who was wounded while serving in the UN peacekeepers during the siege of Sarajevo. Bruno  likes his routines and calm life and that is disrupted when there is a murder on his patch of an elderly North African who fought in the French army.

Martin Walker used to be a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper, The Guardian,  in the USSR, USA, Europe and Africa. He has written non-fiction history books on the Cold War and 20th Century USA. He, like his creation, is looking for a calm life in the Perigold region of rural France.

Gardens of the Dead by William Brodrick
This is series set in England about Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk. In Gardens of the Dead, the second in the series, Father Anselm becomes involved in solving a mystery when one of his former barrister colleagues dies and it is revealed that she was trying to resolve a case they both worked on when Father Anselm was Anselm Duffy Q.C. The story weaves questions around justice, innocence and redemption throughout the plot. 

William Brodrick was born in Bolton, Lancashire and grew up in Australia and the UK. He joined the Augustinian Friars in Dublin, Ireland in 1979. He lived several years as a friar before he left the order to set up a charity for homeless people. In 1991 he became a barrister. Broderick holds British and Canadian citizenship and is married with three children. He now lives in France. 

The Raven's Eye by Barry Maitland
Barry Maitland has been recommended before by this group, twice. For our recommendation on The Raven's Eye, Maitland's latest novel, go here.  For our recommendation on The Marx Sisters, the first novel from the Brock and Kolla series, go here

Barry Maitland has written twelve novels in total in the series. To quote his website, "the books have been described as whydunits as much as whodunits, concerned with the devious histories and motivations of their characters. Barry's background in architecture drew him to the structure of the mystery novel, and his books are notable for their ingenious plots as well as for their atmospheric settings, each in a different intriguing corner of London."

Lewis Island Trilogy by Peter May
Like Maitland, Peter May has been recommended before by our Mystery and Crime Reading Group. To find our recommendation on The Blackhouse, the first novel in the trilogy, go here, and for our recommendation for The Chessmen, the  last novel in the Lewis Island trilogy, go here.

The Lewis Man is the middle novel and it centres around the discovery of a body in the peat bog off the Isle of Lewis. First believed to be a find for the history books, it is revealed by the discovery of an Elvis tattoo on the body that it is a victim of a very twentieth century crime.

Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White
Also known as The Spiral Staircase, Some Must Watch (1933) is a mystery set in an isolated country home in Wales called The Summit. It focuses on an assortment of people in this house, Helen Cadel (a lady's companion), Professor Warren (the head of the household), his sister Blanche (who is also his housekeeper), his aunt (who is a bit sinister), his whiny son, his high maintenance daughter-in-law, his student and two servants. So it is a big house. Young girls have been murdered in the neighbourhood and this threat starts to infiltrate the house. Tension ratchets up, behave weirdly and everything is not what it seems. It was so popular as a novel it made into a movie three times. 

Ethel Lina White wrote 17 novels in total, her first three being mainstream novels before starting on crime writing in 1931. She was a well known and popular writer in the 1930s and 1940s and two other of her novels were made into movies. Namely The Wheel Spins (1936) which became The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Midnight House (1942) made into The Unseen.

Ethel Lina White was born in Wales in 1876 and died in 1944. Her novels were not a series.

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves
We have recommended Ann Cleeves before, however it was in relation to her Shetland Island series, and you can read that here. Silent Voices (2011) is the fourth novel in the Vera Stanhope series that Cleeves began writing in 1999. These novels have been made into a TV show in the UK called Vera, with Brenda Blethyn in the lead role.

Vera is a Detective Inspector with the Northumberland police and she works with her colleague Sergeant Joe Ashworth to solve murder cases. Vera does not play nicely with others but she gets results and much of the series is about delving in behind the masks people wear in everyday life to get to the issues below. 

Skeleton Road by Val McDermid
Skeleton Road is the third in Val McDermid's Inspector Karen Pirie series. Inspector Pirie lives in Fife, Scotland and is a cold case expert. Like the two previous novels featuring Pirie, Skeleton Road is about the remains of a body found in a Victorian Gothic building in the historic part of Edinburgh that is being developed into new flats. Pirie tracks the case to former Yugoslavia and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

Val McDermid is very good writer and her novels are always complex with great plots intertwined with a study of psychological impulses of killers as well as those who hunt them. McDermid has three well known as established series that we have recommended before. Go here to see that recommendation.  She has also written over a dozen standalone novels. 

Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
Alan Furst is an American author how writes historical spy novels set in the first half of the twentieth century. Spies of Warsaw (2008) is the tenth in the Night Soldiers novels that Furst began writing in 1988. Each novel has different protagonists, however he has a cast of secondary characters that appear in a number of the stories across the series.

Spies of Warsaw is set in a pre-World War Two Warsaw where French and German spies are playing deadly games that involve the underworld and the elite. Each major European country seems to have a spy in play in town and everyone who is anyone is a piece on the chessboard in the lead up to war.

 Spies of Warsaw was made into a British TV miniseries in 2013. 

Mystery Muses: the 100 Classics That Inspire Today's Mystery Writers by Jim Huang & Austin Lugar
According to the Crumb Creek Press website, Jim Huang and Austin Lugar asked 100 published crime writers: 

"Did a mystery set you on your path to being a writer? 
Is there a classic mystery that remains important to you today?"

These crime writers penned each penned an essay with these two questions in mind and Huang and Lugar edited these essays for this collection. The essays range from insights into Patricia Highsmith, Denis Lehane, golden age authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, and hard boiled legend Raymond Chandler. The essays are arranged in order of the classic novels they cover so there is a sense of change and history in the collection.

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson
Spirit of Steamboat (2013) is a Christmas themed novella from the writer of the  Walt Longmire series set in Wyoming, which has been made into a TV series called Longmire

Good Reads website puts the plot succinctly, "Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on 24 December when he is interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt's predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn't recognise the mysery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally. With his daughter, Cady, and his undersheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman's reticence to reveal her identity, the agrees to help her.

At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle's and swears he's never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers "Steamboat" and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest change of survival....back to a record-breaking blizzard, to Walt's first year as sheriff, with a young daughter at home and a wife praying for his safety...back to a whisky-soaked World War II vet ready to fly a decommissioned plane and risk it all to save a life."    

In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty
This is the third novel in The Troubles Trilogy from Irish writer Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy novels. McKinty was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and grew up in Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He lived in New York city and Denver in the USA in the 1990s and early 2000s. He now lives in Melbourne, Australia. 

His novels are set in the early 1980s in Ireland and focus on the Irish 'troubles'. Sean Duffy in a Catholic cop in the Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary. He is caught between the Irish and the British during Margaret Thatcher's time as UK Prime Minister and the plot delves into this contentious time in British/Irish relations and involves an IRA master bomber, MI5, and the British Conservative Party Conference in Brighton in 1984, where Mrs Thatcher is giving the keynote speech. If you want to know why this occasion is important in the conflict, you can click here

Ratking & Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
Ratking (1988) is the first in the Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin, and Dead Lagoon (1996) is the fourth. Dibdin wrote 11 novels in total featuring Zen, and unfortunately died in 2007 just after finishing the last book in the series. 

Zen is an Italian Police Commissioner and is part of the elite Italian Criminalpol squad stationed in Rome. He is described as middle-aged and "disgusted with - but begrudgingly resigned to - the political bog of corruption and cynicism with which he has to work". These books are a mixture of police procedure and psychological suspense, Dibdin gives us a way into the dealings of the modern Italian police force. They were made into a British TV series in 2011. 

Berlin Noir Trilogy by Philip Kerr
We have recommended this trilogy before, read here. This trilogy is set in Nazi Germany pre World War Two and features Detective Barnie Gunther. The first novel in the trilogy is March Violets (1989) and is set at the time of the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The Pale Criminal (1990) is set two years later and Bernie is investigating the death of Aryan teenage girls. The frog is no longer being slowly boiled in Berlin in relation to how the Nazi regime is impacting every day life for all Germans, especially those who do not support the Nazi party but identify themselves as patriotic Germans. It is basically a nightmare, and Kerr does not shy away from this. It can make this trilogy a difficult read, but it is a fascinating one. The third novel is A German Requiem (1991) is set after World War Two in 1947, and the Russians and the Americans are the new masters of Berlin and Bernie is navigating the shortages that dominate the city as well as the new politics of what becomes the Cold War.

Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg
Buried Angels (2014) is the eighth (and latest) novel in the Patrik Hedstrom/Erica Falck series from Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg. Her first novel in the series, The Ice Princess, was published in 2003. Patrik is a detective in a small fishing village, Fjallbacka, and his wife, Erica is a crime writer. The books are as much a look at a working partnership as a police procedural and they take the reader into the life of a community that is reliant on the land and the sea. 

Buried Angels focuses on a cold case about a family that vanished from their home on an idyllic island off the coast over Easter in 1974 leaving their one year old daughter Ebba behind. 40 years later Ebba has returned to find out what happened.