by John Pecoraro, Associate Director
There is nothing better than reading a good mystery. That is, unless you are reading a mystery that takes place in another country. International mysteries add to the mystery of the story with the flavor of another country’s culture, customs, and cuisine. The library’s collection of downloadable materials on Hoopla features hundreds of mysteries by authors from dozens of places around the world.
The first stop on our tour of world mysteries is Mussolini’s Italy of the 1930s. Maurizio di Giovanni introduces Commissario Ricciardi in “I Will Have Vengeance.” Commissario Ricciardi has the uncanny ability (gift or curse) of seeing the final seconds in the lives of people who have died violent deaths. It has helped him become one of the most successful homicide detectives on the Naples police force, but at a cost. Ricciardi drinks too much and doesn’t sleep enough. It’s March, 1931, when Arnaldo Vezzi, famous opera tenor, is found murdered in his dressing room. While adored by millions of opera fans, Vezzi, arrogant and bad-tempered, is also hated by not a few. As Ricciardi investigates, there doesn’t seem to be a want of suspects happy to see Vizzi dead.
Next we visit the Low Countries. The Belgian police force send veteran Walter Eekhaut, along with his authority problem, to Amsterdam to assist the Dutch security service in investigating the activities of a well-connected Russian oligarch. So begins Guido Eekhaut’s (no relation) “Absinthe.” While investigating the Russian, Eekhaut finds himself pulled into the case of a murdered young dissident who might have stolen a sensitive list from the Amsterdam offices of an ultra-right-wing political party. A list with the name of secret donors. The hunt for the killer leads to shady dealings that set the Russian mob, Dutch politicians, and business leaders against the police and anyone else who tries to get in their way.
Now travel further north to the Sweden of Camilla Lackberg. In “The Hidden Child,” crime writer Erica Falck makes a shocking discovery. She finds a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Digging into her family’s past leads her to the home of a retired history teacher who was one of her mother’s friends during the Second World War. He answers her questions with only bizarre and evasive answers, and two days later turns up dead. Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Erica’s reading of her mother’s wartime diaries uncovers a secret that could endanger her husband and child. Light is shining on the dark past, and the truth will out.
Kwei Quartey is a writer from Ghana. His inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police is investigating the ritualistic murder of a prominent, wealthy couple washed up in a canoe at an offshore oil rig. They are pillars of the community, mourned by all. The more Dawson learns about the case, the more complex it becomes. Real estate entrepreneurs and oil companies have been bribing the traditional fishing population to move out. Soon Dawson discovers an abundance of motives for murder from personal vendettas to corporate conspiracies in “Murder at Cape Three Points.”
When a woman’s body is discovered in the wardrobe warehouse of Israel Television, Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon takes off on a tangled and bloody trail of detection in Batya Gur’s “Murder in Jerusalem.” While Ohayon has spent his career surrounded by perplexing cases, nothing disturbs him more than what this woman’s murder reveals. The media, so often where political tensions, and social and religious divisions come together, may indeed be at the root of an unspeakable evil.
From Cuba, Leonardo Padura, gives us “Havana Blue,” the first in his series featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde. His head bounding with a New Year’s Eve hangover, Conde is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a high-level business manager, Rafael Morin. Conde remembers Morin from their student days as the guy who always got what he wanted. That included Tamara, the girl Conde hoped would be his own. But there is something hidden beneath Morin’s rise from the barrio into his perfect, successful life. In his investigation, Conde is forced to confront his lost love for Tamara, along with the dreams and delusions of his entire generation of Cubans.