Asian Mystery Novels

***denotes favorites

Japan      Laura Joh Rowland–American mystery author best known for her series set in the late days of feudal Japan, mostly in Edo during the late 1600s. Objective historical details are credibly accurate. First Novel: Shinju (1994)

Japan     Keigo Higashino–Winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award and the Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize. Won the Naoki prize in 2006 for “The Devotion of Suspect X”. First Novel: Naoko (2004)

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Japan     IJ Parker–An Associate Professor of English and Foreign Languages (retired) at a Virginia university, Parker began research into11th century Japan because of a professional interest in that culture’s literature. First Novel: Rashomon Gate (2002)

Japan    Akimitsu Takagi–A very popular mystery writer in post-war Japan, Takagi’s novels reflects what life was like for Japanese after the war. Informer is often ranked among the top 100 mysteries ever written. First Novel: Informer (1971)

Japan     Seicho Matsumoto–Winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan award in 1957. Matsumoto has collaborated with film director Yoshitaro Nomura on adapting eight of his novels to film, including the Castle of Sand, which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Japanese cinema. First Novel: Points and Lines (1970)

Japan     Miyuki Miyabe–Her novels provide an interesting commentary on modern-day Japanese society. First Novel: All She Was Worth (1992)

Japan     Dale Furutani–American Furutani’s first novel was nominated for an Agatha Award and won Anthony and Macavity Awards for best first mystery. First Novel: Death in Little Tokyo (1996)

Japan     Sujata Massey–Rei Shimura series, Japanese American antiques dealer. Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany. She studied writing at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before moving to Japan, where she taught English and began writing mystery fiction. First Novel: The Salaryman’s Wife (1997)

Japan      Natsuo Kirino–Her work goes well beyond the conventional crime novel. This is demonstrated by her winning not only Japan’s top mystery award, for Out, but one of its major literary awards, the Naoki Prize for Soft Cheeks. Several of her books have also been turned into movies. First Novel published in English: Out (2004)

Korea   Featured image  ***Martin Limon–Series of novels set against the backdrop of the tension between the American military and South Korean society 1970’s. The novel’s detectives George Sueno and Ernie Bascom are in the army’s Criminal Investigations Division. First Novel: Jade Lady Burning (1992)

Korea       ***James Church–Inspector O series, North Korean police detective. A fascinating look inside North Korea, written by a former American intelligence officer. Inspector O, a state police officer, must try to solve crimes while navigating the political and ideological minefield. First Novel: A Corpse in the Koryo (2006)

Thailand      Christopher G. Moore–Christopher Moore was one of the first to successfully write mysteries set Bangkok. Series character, Vincent Calvino, who’s half Jewish and half Italian, an ex-New Yorker who became a private eye in Thailand. Canadian expat. First Novel: The Risk of Infidelity Index (2007)

Thailand    *** Colin Cotterill–British expat Cotterill has a new series set in rural Thailand with Jimm Juree, a former crime reporter with an eccentric family. Cotterill was trained as a teacher and has worked for UNESCO and other agencies fighting child prostitution. First in Jimm Juree series: Killed at the Whim of a Hat (2011)

Thailand      Dean Barrett–Barrett first came to Asia as a Chinese linguist with the American Army Security Agency specializing in Intelligence Operations. Originally from Connecticut, he was a playwright in New York City for 14 years. Last Novel: Permanent Damage (2010)

Thailand     Stephen Leather–Leather was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Bangkok Bob is an antiques dealer and part-time PI. First in series: Bangkok Bob and the Missing Mormon (2010)

Thailand     ***John Burdett–Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a young Buddhist police detective, may be the last honest cop in the corrupt and bizarre city of Bangkok. Featured imageBooks have been labeled mystic mysteries.  First Novel: Bangkok 8 (2003)

Laos     ***Colin Cotterill–Siri Paiboun, coroner in mid-70’s Laos, after Communists have taken over. Writer and illustrator. For drawings, see First Novel: The Coroner’s Lunch (2004)

Indonesia     David Waltner-Toews–Canadian epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph writes of Canadian veterinarian in Bali in early 1980’s. First Novel: Fear of Landing (2007)

China      ***Qiu Xiaolong–Xiaolong was born in Shanghai. The Cultural Revolution began in his last year of elementary school. While studying in the United States at Washington University in 1989, the Tiananmen tragedy helped him decide to stay in the US. First Novel: Death of a Red Heroine (2000)

China       Diane Wei Liang–Diane Wei Liang was born in China the year the Cultural Revolution began. She was studying at Beijing University in the 1980’s but was forced to leave and continue her studies in the USA because of her involvement in the students’ revolt that led to the Tiananmen Square massacre. She now lives in London where she writes the PI Mei Wang mystery series. First novel: The Eye of Jade (2007)

China    Robert van Gulik–Van Gulik was a highly educated Dutch diplomat, musician and writer best known for the Judge Dee mysteries– the protagonist of which he borrowed from an 18th century Chinese detective novel. First Novel: Dee Goong An (1949)

China    ***Lisa See–See is Chinese American and writes in several genres. Her Red Princess Featured imagemystery series includes three novels. See is best known for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which was on the NY Times bestseller list in 2010. First in the series: The Flower Net (1997)

China     David Rotenberg–Features Shanghai Detective Inspector Zhong Fong in modern-day Shanghai. Rotenberg is Canadian. First Novel: The Shanghai Murders (1998)

China      Peter May–Scottish writer of the Li Yan and Margaret series, a Chinese police detective and American forensic pathologist in Beijing. First Novel: The Firemaker (1999)

Mongolia     ***Michael Walters–British Walters worked in the oil industry, broadcasting and banking. His Inspector Nergui series of the Serious Crimes Unit, takes place in Mongolia, China. First Novel: The Shadow Walker (2006)

Hong Kong     William Marshall–Australian author who lived for many years in Hong Kong published his first crime novel in 1975, followed by 16 further books, ending in 1998, just as the Chinese took over Hong Kong from the British. Obviously influenced by Ed McBain. First Novel: Yellowthread Street (1975)

Singapore/Malaysia     Shamini Flint–Flint now lives in Singapore but began her career in law in Malaysia and also worked at an international law firm in Singapore. She also writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes. First Novel: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder (2009)

Tibet    Featured image ***Eliot Pattison–Scottish Pattison spent his first career advising and representing U.S. and foreign companies on international investment and trade issues. An extensive international traveler, he has been a frequent visitor to China and currently resides in rural Pennsylvania. Pattison writes the Shahn Tao Yun series, a disgraced Chinese policeman in Tibet. First Novel: (1998)

India      H R F Keating–British writer of Indian culture in 26 mysteries from 1964 to 2009, died in 2011. His Inspector Ghote series in Bombay, then Mombai, are classics. First Novel: The Perfect Murder (1964)

India       Tarquin Hall–British journalist has spent much of his adult life in Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. His PI Vish Puri is “portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi in hot and dusty Delhi.” First Novel: The Case of the Missing Servant (2009)


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