International Mysteries


*** denotes favorites

1) James McClure — father of South African crime writing: First: Steam Pig (1971).

2) Margie Orford – Namibia/South Africa; 13 years of living overseas and in Namibia working as a crime reporter. Clare Hart Series – First: Like Clockwork (2006).

3) Caryl Férey – Noir French author writes about Cape Town’s Crime Unit. First: Zulu (2010).

4) *** Alexander McCall Smith –The super-popular No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, set in Botswana; a Scot born in Zimbabwe. Only lived in Botswana 3 years.

5) Deon Meyer — South African writer features Afrikaner detective Benny Griessel in post-apartheid (but not post-racial) South Africa. First: Devil’s Peak (2007).

6) Diane Johnson — The two-time Pulitzer Prize – and three-time National Book Award-nominated author has started a mystery set in Morocco. First: Lulu in Marrakech (2008).

7) Michael Stanley — Two white South Africans, writing under the pen name; Series about David “Kubu” Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. First: A Carrion Death (2008).

8) *** Kwei Quartey — Ghana; Detective Inspector Darko Dawson. First: Wife of the Gods (2009).

9) Mukoma wa Ngugi — Kenya; son of Kenya’s most famous novelist; His Nairobi Heat, set in Wisconsin and Nairobi, portrays collaboration between two detectives, an African American and a Kenyan, in a case related to the Rwandan genocide.

10) Yasmina Khadra — Algeria; Few North African mystery writers have been translated into English. He is a former military officer now living in exile who writes gritty police procedurals. First: Morituri (2004).Featured image

11) Michael Pearce — writes the historical Egyptian Mamur Zapt series. First: The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet (1988).

12) *** Malla Nunn — South Africa; Detective Emmanuel Cooper. First: A Beautiful Place to Die (2009).


1) Seicho Matsumoto — classic Japanese writer who began writing in the 1950s.

2) Natsuo Kirino — won Japan’s top mystery award for Out (2004) as well as one of its major literary awards.

3) Miyake Miyabe — Japan; only All She Was Worth (1999) translated to English.

4) Shizuko Natsuki — Japan’s bestselling mystery writer. First: Murder at Mount Fuji (1984).

5) Sujata Massey — Japan; Rei Shimura series about a young Japanese-American English teacher living in Tokyo. First: The Salaryman’s Wife (1997).

6) Keigo Higashino — one of Japan’s best selling crime novelists; series about a university physics professor with an uncanny ability to crack tough murder cases. Most famous in the US: The Devotion of Suspect X (2011).

7) *** Qiu Xiaolong — Chinese novelist who now lives in St. Louis. First: Death of a Red Heroine (2000).

8) ***Diane Wei Liang – born in China in the year of the Cultural Revolution. First Mei Wang Mystery is: The Eye of Jade (2007).

9) *** Lisa See – Chinese American wrtier who more famous for her literary works like Snow Flower. First Red Princess Mystery: The Flower Net (1997).

10) Peter May – Scottish writer has interesting series on Chinese issues. The first book The Firemaker (1999) focuses on genetic food engineering.

11) David Rotenberg — Canadian who writes series set in Shanghai. First: The Shanghai Murders (1998).

12) *** Colin Cotterill — series set in Laos features an elderly revolutionary veteran who has become the national coroner; set in the 1970’s. First: The Coroner’s Lunch (2004).

13) ***Michael Walters — Mongolia; Inspector Nergui series. First: The Shadow Walker (2006).

14) Vikram Chandra – India; detective Sartaj Singh. Sacred Games (2006).

15) Tarquin Hall – India; humorous PI Vish Puri. First: The Case of the Missing Servant (2009).

16) Kishwar Desai – Social worker Simran Singh deals with women’s issues in India. First: Witness the Night (2010).

17) HRF Keating – India; Brit with Inspector Ghote series. First: The Perfect Murder (1964).

18) Barbara Cleverly– Commander Joe Sandilands in India in 1922. First: The Last Kashmiri Rose (2001).

19) ***John Burdett – Thailand; Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep series in Bangkok, city of temples and brothels. First: Bangkok 8 (2002).

20) Christopher G. Moore — Thailand; Vincent Calvino, disbarred American lawyer turned Bangkok P.I. –Hardboiled. First: Spirit House (2008).

21) James Church — North Korean Inspector O. First: A Corpse in the Koryo (2006).

22) ***Martin Limon — South Korea; US Army Sergeants George Sueño and Ernie Bascom just after Korean War. First: Jade Lady Burning (1992).

23) Cheryl Benard — Pakistan; part mystery, part travelogue and part voice for women’s rights in Pakistan; 2003 debut novel Moghul Buffet.

24)*** Eliot Pattison – Scottish writer about Inspector Shan who comes out of the gulag in Tibet to solve crimes for China. First: The Skull Mantra (1998).


1) Barbara Nadel – Turkey; Istanbul’s Inspector Cetin Ikmen. First: Belshazzar’s Daughter (1999).

2) Jakob Arjouni – German writer about Turkey; P.I. Kemal Kayankaya. First: Happy Birthday Turk (1993).

3) Mehmet Murat Somer — Turkey; cross dressing Istanbul nightclub owner sleuth. First: The Prophet Murders (2008).

4) Batya Gur—Israel; a literary critic for Ha’aretz, Israel’s most prestigious paper in Jerusalem. Her sleuth — Michael Ohayon of the Jerusalem police. First: The Saturday Morning Murder: A Psychoanalytic Case (1992).

5) ***Matt Beynon Rees — Wales-born journalist posted in Jerusalem from 2000 to 2006; Palestinian teacher and amateur sleuth Omar Yousef series. First: The Bethlehem Murders (2007).Featured image

6) Jason Goodwin — eunuch Yashim Togalu during last days of Ottoman Empire. First: The Janissary Tree (2006).

7)*** Zoe Ferraris— Saudi Arabia; female coroner tech, Katya Hijazi, teams with Palestinian-born desert guide. First: Finding Nouf (2008).


1) Paco Ignacio Taibo — Mexico; Detective Hector Belascoaran Shayne; popular, but somewhat hard to read in English translation. First: An Easy Thing (1990).

2) José Latour — Cuba; now writes in English and lives in Canada, creates nuanced mysteries sensitive to both the Cuban and Cuban exile milieus. Best: Hidden in Havana (2008).

3) ***Leighton Gage — Chief Inspector Mario Silva of Brazil’s Federal Police. First: Blood of the Wicked (2007).

4) *** Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza — Brazil; Inspector Espinosa of Rio de Janeiro. First: The Silence of the Rain (2002).

5) Ian Vasquez – Belize; various stand alones. First: In the Heat (2008).

6) ***Leonardo Padura — Cuban; Havana quartet featuring Inspector Mario Conde. First: Havana Red (2005).



1) *** Robert Wilson — Portugal/Spain; homicide detective Javier Falcon series. First: The Blind Man of Seville (2003).

2) Manuel Vazquez Montalban — Spain; Pepe Carvalho, a fast-living, gourmet private detective; Montalban has won both the Raymond Chandler Prize and the French Grand Prix of Detective Fiction. First: Murder in the Central Committee (1984).

3) Rebecca Pawel — Spanish historical mysteries, featuring Lieutenant Carlos Tejada Alonso y León of Granada, 1940’s. First: Death of a Nationalist (2003).

4) *** Roderic Jeffries – 36 books in the Inspector Alvarez series set on Mallorca Island. First: Mistakenly in Mallorca (1974).

5) *** Alicia Gimenez Bartlett –Detective Petra Delicado in Barcelona. First: Death Rites (1996).

6) *** Arturo Pérez-Reverte — Stand alones excellent. Favorite: The Flanders Panel (1994).


5) ***Nicolas Freeling — English; Henri Castang police inspector series. First: A Dressing of Diamonds (1974). Last in 1996.

6) *** Jean-Claude Izzo — French; Marseilles Trilogy Inspector Fabio Montale. First: Total Chaos (2005).

7) Fred Vargas — French; Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg; Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau. First: The Chalk Circle Man (2009).

8) Georges Simenon — French; published almost 200 novels and short works; Paris detective Maigret from 1932 to 1989.

9) *** J. Robert Janes — France; St-Cyr of the Surete Nationale and Kohler of the Gestapo during WWII German occupation. First: Mayhem (1992).

10)*** Martin Walker — British; Captain Bruno Courrèges in small town of St. Debis. First: Bruno, Chief of Police (2008).


10) Peter May– Edinburgh Detective Fin McLeod. First: The Blackhouse (2011).

11) Beaton, M. C. – Constable Hamish Macbeth. First: Death of a Gossip (1985).

12) Alex Gray – Series with Det. Insp. Lorimer and psychologist Brightman. First: Never Somewhere Else (2002).

13) Ian Rankin – famous Inspector Rebus in Edinburgh. First: Knots and Crosses (1987).

14) Val McDermid – three series—Lesbian Reporter Lindsay Gordon; First: Report for Murder (1987). PI Kate Brannigan; First: Dead Beat (1992). Clinical psychologist Tony Hill; First: The Mermaids Singing (1995).

15)Featured image *** Denise Mina – three great series all set in Glasgow. Garnethill trilogy; First: Garnethill (1998). Paddy Meehan, reporter; First: The Field of Blood (2005). Inspector Alex Morrow series; First: Still Midnight (2009).


16) Benjamin Black – heavy drinking pathologist Quirke in Dublin. First: Christine Falls (2006).

17) Alex Barclay – Thrillers about a NY cop who retires in small Irish town. First: Darkhouse (2005).

18) Arlene Hunt — Rookie detectives Sarah Kenny and John Quigley in Dublin. First: False Intentions (2005).

19) Tana French – features the Dublin Murder Squad. First: In the Woods (2007).

20) Stuart Neville — Jack Lennon Investigation Series. First: The Ghosts of Belfast (2009).


21) Carlo Lucarelli – Italian; two series — Inspector Grazia Negro and Commissario De Luca. First Negro in Bologna: Almost Blue (2001). First De Luca in 1945 Italy: Carte Blanche (2006).

22) *** Gianrico Carofiglio – Italian; Attorney Guido Guerrieri series. First: Involuntary Witness (2005).

23) Massimo Carlotto – Italian; Aligator, a former convict turned detective in Venice. First: The Colombian Mule (2003).

24) *** Andrea Camilleri – Italian; Inspector Salvo Montalbano series in Sicily. First: The Shape of Water (2002).Featured image

25) *** Iain Pears—British; acclaimed art crime series with General Bottando and Flavia di Stefano of the Italian National Art Theft Squad. First: The Raphael Affair (1990). (Favorite: An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997)–British Historical).

26) Magdalen Nabb—British; twelve crime novels set in Florence featuring Marshal Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri. First: Death of an Englishman (1981).

27) *** Donna Leon—American; Commissario of Police Guido Brunetti series; set in Venice. Most popular Italian series. First: Death At La Fenice (1992).

28) David Hewson –British; Roman detective Nic Costa. First: A Season for the Dead (2003).

29) *** Michael Dibdin – British; Aurelio Zen series. PBS series favorite. First: Ratking (1988).

30) Tobias Jones — British; Private Detective Castagnetti. First: The Salati Case (2009).

31) Christobel Kent – British; Set in Florence. First: A Time of Mourning (2009).

32) Conor Fitzgerald – British; Set in Rome — First: The Dogs of Rome (2010).


33) Friedrich Glauser — Switzerland; Friedrich Glauser is a legendary figure in European crime writing. He was a morphine and opium addict much of his life and began writing crime novels while he was an inmate at a Swiss insane asylum; Sergeant Studer series. First: Thumbprint (2004).

The Netherlands

34) Janwillem van de Wetering — The Netherlands; Amsterdam cops Henk Grijpstra and Rinus de Gier. First: Outsider in Amsterdam (1975).

35) A.C. Baantjer — most widely read author in the Netherlands; Inspector DeKok. First: DeKok and the Somber Nude (1992).

36) Saskia Noort – Dutch novels are acclaimed literary thrillers. First: The Dinner Club (2007).


37) Bernhard Schlink; — Germany; sixty-eight years old, smoker, drinker PI Gerhard Self. First: Self’s Punishment (2004).

38)*** Jonathan Rabb — Germany; Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner; set just after WWI; American author. First: Rosa (2005).

39) *** Philip Kerr — Germany; historical mysteries with PI Bernie Gunther; British author. May find first book in trilogy: Berlin Noir (1993). First: March Violets (1989).


40) Frank Tallis — Austria; historical mysteries in Vienna early 1900’s with Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt. First: Mortal Mischief (2005).


41) Petros Markaris — Greece; Athens homicide squad chief Costas Haritos. First: Deadline in Athens (2004).


42) Boris Akunin — Russian; Erast Fandorin, a gentleman sleuth who solves murders and mysteries in tsarist Russia. First: The Winter Queen (2003).

43) Stuart M. Kaminsky –American author. Russian Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov. First: Rostnikov’s Corpse (1981).

44) R.N. Morris — Inspector Porfiry Petrovich (from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment) in in St. Petersburg, 1860’s. First: A Gentle Axe (2007).

45) *** Martin Cruz Smith — Moscow Chief Investigator Arkady Renko. First: Gorky Park (1981).

46) ***Olen Steinhauer – historical mysteries in an unnamed Eastern bloc country. First: The Bridge of Sighs (2003).

Others in Europe

47) ***Charles Cumming – MI-6 agent, soon to be ex-agent. First: A Spy by Nature (2001).

48) ***Daniel Silva – a world-class art restorer and former member of the Israeli Secret Service. First: The Kill Artist (2000).

49) *** Mark Mills – various European set stand alone thrillers. First: The Savage Garden (2006).

50) *** Dan Fesperman – Vlado Petric in Sarajevo; First: Lie in the Dark (1998). Stand Alones; First: The Prisoner of Guantanamo (2006).

51) *** Leonard Rosen – complex intrigue; Interpol agent Henri Poincare. First: All Cry Chaos (2010).


1) Peter Corris — 26 novels about Sydney private detective Cliff Hardy

2) Kerry Greenwood – series with 1920’s most elegant and irrepressible sleuth Phryne Fisher. First: Cocaine Blues (1989).

3) Adrian Hyland — Emily Tempest is an aboriginal community police officer. First: Diamond Dove (2007)/

4) *** Peter Temple — Australia’s most acclaimed crime and thriller writer; lawyer Jack Irish. First: Bad Debts (1996).

5) Garry Disher – Melbourne Detective Inspector Hal Challis. First: The Dragon Man (1999).

6) Michael Robotham – Thrillers about a clinical psychologist. First: The Suspect (2004).


1) Barbara Fradkin — Ottawa police Inspector Green. First: Do Or Die (2000).Featured image

2) L.R. Wright — Pacific Northwest; police detective Karl Alberg. First: The Suspect (1985).

3) *** Louise Penny — Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec; winner of  4 Agatha Awards in a row. First: Still Life (2005).


1) Greg Rucka— Carrie Stetko U.S. Marshal. First: Whiteout (1999).


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