The best-known crime fiction may come from America and England, but there’s far more beyond the horizon, including new books from Ghana, Botswana, Italy and France. Check out these titles as we head into 2020:
“The Missing American” (Soho, 432 pp., $25.95, Jan. 14), by Kwei Quartey, launches an evocative new series starring Emma Djan, a young cop-turned-private eye in Accra, Ghana. (Quartey, a physician in California, is a Ghanaian native.) She’s in search of a widowed American who has vanished after being lured to Ghana by an online scam artist. Meanwhile, Djan also handles the (seemingly unrelated) assassination of an anti-corruption presidential candidate.
Michael Stanley’s “Facets of Death” (Poisoned Pen, 336 pp., $15.99, Jan. 7) is a prequel to his series about Botswanan police detective David “Kubu” Bengu, whose girth earned him his nickname: “Kubu” is “hippo” in Setswana. His older colleagues scorn the rookie cop, fresh from university and full of genial earnestness. Undaunted, Kubu dives into two cases: ongoing theft from the airport and a diamond heist that triggers multiple murders. Parallels to Alexander McCall Smith’s “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series — also set in Botswana — are clear, but Kubu’s distinctive personality, juxtaposed against scenes of his country’s darker sides, help his adventures stand out.
Luca D’Andrea’s thriller “Sanctuary” (HarperCollins, 384 pp., $16.99, translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor, Jan. 21) takes us to the rugged Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. Marlene Wegener, the wife of a scary crime boss, is desperate to escape her husband. She steals a fortune and flees into the wilderness, but a car accident injures her badly and she takes refuge with a sympathetic mountain man — only to be trapped again, isolated in a snowstorm with danger still near. D’Andrea, justifiably a bestseller in Europe, deftly weaves local lore and culture, as well as eerie echoes of Marlene’s beloved fairy tales, into his intense story.
On, now, to France for “The Killing Tide” by Jean-Luc Bannalec (Minotaur, 368 pp., $25.99, translated by Peter Millar, Feb. 4). Commissaire Georges Dupin, a thorough Parisian, is a stranger in his current posting, the rough-and-ready seacoast of Brittany — specifically, the village of Douarnenez, where the economy rests on harvesting the fruits of the treacherous Atlantic. One of the region’s few female fishers has been found, her throat slit, in a container of rotting fish. Another murder follows, of a dolphin researcher, and Dupin’s dogged queries lead him to plumb the tension between the region’s independent fishers and the big fleets that threaten them. It’s out in early February but will make its way to bookshelves in late January.
“The Missing American” by Kwei Quartey, Soho, 432 pp., $25.95
“Facets of Death” by Michael Stanley, Poisoned Pen, 336 pp., $15.99
“Sanctuary” by Luca D’Andrea, HarperCollins, 384 pp., $16.99
“The Killing Tide” by Jean-Luc Bannalec. Minotaur, 368 pp., $25.99