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February’s Best International Crime Fiction


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As winter storms batter much of the country, and treacherous films of ice cover the roads, we’re even more homebound than usual this month, which means it’s the perfect time to indulge in some far-ranging reads. Each month, CrimeReads selects the best international new releases for crime fans, and espionage and thriller fans should be especially pleased with these wintry offerings. Looking for some order in society? Check out a new procedural from China. Ready to feel terrified in your own home? We’ve got just the German thriller for you! And wondering how authors keep coming up with fresh new tales of Eastern European intrigue? Here are three new books that prove the topic of espionage will never run dry. Stay home. Stay safe. And stay vigilant.

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Zhou Haohui, Death Notice II: Fate (Head of Zeus)
Translated by Zac Haluza

In the second installment of Zhou Haohui’s internationally bestselling Death Notice trilogy, Haohui continues to wow with his sweeping yet detail-oriented take on the procedural, sure to please fans of Scandi noir and Italian neorealist detective fiction. In Fate, set 18 years after the events of the first volume, a copycat killer has emerged to take up the mantle of the vengeful “death notice” killer, who warns his victims with the titular message before exacting punishment for perceived misdeeds. Some readers have cautioned that this book may be difficult to comprehend if you have not read the previous installment, so keep that in mind before picking this one up. The trilogy is also a landmark television series in China.

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Sebastian Fitzek, The Package (Head of Zeus)
Translated by Jamie Bulloch

Maybe I just feel like making jokes about German precision, but man, they sure can plot a thriller. In Sebastian Fitzek’s utterly chilling new novel, the sole survivor of a serial rapist known as the “hairdresser” for his calling card of shaving his victims’ heads, is holed up at home and terrified when she receives a request to hold a mysterious package for her neighbor. Things quickly unravel from there.

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György Dragomán, The Bone Fire (Mariner)
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Described as a “political Gothic” by the publisher, The Bone Fire follows a young teenage girl who is rescued from an orphanage by her fortune-telling grandmother after her dissident parents are killed in a suspicious road accident. Those who enjoy Eastern European espionage and dark fairy tales will be equally pleased with this disturbing parable.

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Sergei Lebedev, Untraceable (New Vessel Press)
Translated by Antonina W. Bouis

Colorless, odorless, undetectable, and untraceable—the quality of Russia’s lethal poisons has only improved in the few decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the soon-restored oligarchy of KGB officers turned capitalist strongmen. In Untraceable, Lebedev takes us into the murky world of those scientists who have developed the country’s deadly weapons of targeted destruction.

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Roberta Seret, Gift of Diamonds (Wayzgoose Press)

This one isn’t translated, but the author’s long career in the United Nations and as a teacher of international relations gives her the chops to pull off this first in her Transylvania Trilogy (the following two in the trilogy are soon to be published over the next two months). In Gift of Diamonds, set during Nicolae Ceausescu’s reign of terror, a teenage girl flees Romania after her dissident parents’ arrest, in possession of her father’s valuable (and possibly cursed) stash of diamonds. She uses her treasure to investigate corruption and brinkmanship in Romania’s corrupt upper echelons, as she tries to free her  parents and evade the long arms of a brutal regime.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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