2005 is so last year, part II: on the Commonwealth front

I’ll start with Canada but alas, this will be a short section because I just don’t pay as much attention to what’s happening in my home country as I probably should. There are the authors who have crossed over with success and quality, like Giles Blunt (and BLACK FLY SEASON was very good indeed), John McLachlan Gray, Jon Evans (whom I mentioned in my first post on the subject) and Peter Robinson (even though he writes about Yorkshire) but let’s not forget about Howard Engel, whose new Benny Cooperman mystery THE MEMORY BOOK is just out here from Carroll & Graf. The fact that he overcame alexia sine agraphia to write this book is astounding enough. That he managed to create a PI novel that really does something different and very close to original is simply beyond. There’s also Ilona van Mil’s SUGARMILK FALLS, a lovely and evocative mystery set in Northern Ontario which lived up to the promise of her debut Dagger win a few years back.

And if you missed my screed about Nicole Lundrigan’s THAW, well, here it is again.

The same goes for the UK scene, though at least I tried to rectify the situation when I was back in Canada earlier this month. First, the stars (established or otherwise) like Mark Billingham’s LIFELESS, Simon Kernick’s A GOOD DAY TO DIE, John Connolly’s THE BLACK ANGEL, and Denise Mina’s THE FIELD OF BLOOD. Then the debuts, of which I didn’t get to read too many, but Stuart MacBride’s COLD GRANITE, Alex Barclay’s DARKHOUSE (out here next summer) and Kathryn Fox’s MALICIOUS INTENT (out here in May) stand out, while slightly less newbie-ish writers who I dug include Danny Leigh (for THE MONSTERS OF GRAMERCY PARK) Charlie Williams and FAGS AND LAGER, and Chris Simms for KILLING THE BEASTS.

On the translation front, Arnaldur Indridason’s SILENCE OF THE GRAVE lives up to Gold Dagger-winning hype, while Massimo Carlotto’s THE COLUMBIAN MULE, Guillermo Martinez’s THE OXFORD MURDERS, Benjamin Prado’s SNOW IS SILENT and Karin Alvtegen’s BETRAYAL are certainly must-reads. But if I had to pick one that I still think about the most, it’s probably Stella Duffy’s PARALLEL LIES, for what has to be a particularly layered love triangle gone monstrously wrong. She’s one of the best at writing contemporary social satire, and this indictment of celebrification is definitely that.

And finally, if I forgot to mention a book, I probably did so at one point, so thank god for archives