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The Best International Fiction of March

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Each month, I get to highlight crime books from across the globe, in one of my favorite tasks for CrimeReads, and March brings an exceptionally diverse host of international offerings. This month’s best crime fiction in translation features serial killers in Spain, a feminist Mafia novel from Italy, a Kafka-esque hospital dystopia set in China, a crime caper from Uruguay, and a Russian plague thriller.


Juan Gómez-Jurado, Red Queen
Translated by Nick Caistor


Red Queen feels made for multiple seasons of television with its compelling main character, a brilliant but reclusive woman who refuses to put her forensic skills to work after a personal tragedy. When a new crime thrusts an old murder back into the spotlight, she must be coaxed into solving it by a cop whose career is hanging on a thread and depends on getting her cooperation. No one does Thomas Harris-style murders like crime writers in Spain (perhaps it’s the odd-couple dynamics that also make me think of Harris), and Red Queen promises to be as bloody as it is intricate.


Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, Tina, Mafia Soldier
Translated by Robin Pickering-Iazzi

An extravagantly violent woman serving as the unlikely head of a Sicilian mafia outfit and a writer from Rome in search of a new subject with Sicilian roots of her own are at the center of this fast-moving, provocative novel. The story is at once a compelling mob fiction and a clear-eyed assault on gender conventions in a society awash in corruption and hypocrisy. –Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads Editor-in-Chief


Han Song, Hospital
Translated by Michael Berry
(Amazon Crossing)

Han Song has been described as the Philip K. Dick of China, and Hospital, his new novel set in a Kafka-esque medical dystopia, proves the comparison is deserved. Hospital is first in an acclaimed trilogy, and I can’t wait to read the rest of Song’s thrilling and disturbing cycle.


Mercedes Rosende, The Hand that Feeds You
Translated by Tim Gutteridge
(Bitter Lemon)

Set in Montevideo, Uruguay, from where Mercedes Rosende also hails, The Hand That Feeds You is the sequel to Rosende’s much-lauded Crocodile Tears. Ursula, Rosende’s heroine, is now in possession of all the loot from an armored truck, with robbers, cops, and PIs hot in pursuit. Ursula has plenty of tricks up her sleeve, and given the ineptitude of her pursuers, she’s bound to triumph in the end, but how she does it? Comedic thriller gold.


Yana Vagner, To the Lake
Translated by Maria Wiltshire
(Deep Vellum)

In this Russian survival thriller, a couple sets out from Moscow desperate to escape a deadly new pandemic (based on a late 19th century flu epidemic that may have been caused by a coronavirus). Their city-folk struggles in the wilderness may surmount whatever they faced in the city, and there’s no guarantee they’ll reach their lake-house destination, or be able to survive at all. Also, this one is soon to be a Netflix series, if you’re looking for more frozen wilderness content.

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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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