Our Favourite Crime Novels in Translation

10 July 2017

Whether you're following a detective solving murders in Malmo or looking through the eyes of a stalker in Amsterdam, reading translated crime fiction offers a chance to glimpse into a world and judicial system very different from your own. Here's a selection of some of our favourite translated crime fiction novels.


Dear Mr. M

Dear Mr. M

Translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett. 

Mr. M is being watched. As a famous writer, he is no stranger to the limelight, although interest in his work has been dwindling of late. His print runs are smaller than they used to be, as are the crowds at his bookshop signings . . . Our narrator clearly takes a keen interest in M.'s work, and indeed in every aspect of his life. But what exactly are his intentions? And to what does Mr. M owe the honour of his undivided attention? 

Dear Mr. M is an unsettling and irresistibly readable literary thriller, set in the world of writing and bookselling. 

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The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Translated from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli​

The Shape of Water
is the first in Andrea Camilleri's wry Sicilian crime series starring detective and gastronomy enthusiast Inspector Salvo Montalbano. The Montalbano novels have inspired a best-loved BBC Four TV series, and have been translated into thirty-two languages. 

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Translated from Swedish by Reg Keeland

Following disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist's investigation of a long buried crime in the secretive Vander family, this fast-paced locked-room mystery was the first book to introduce the world to Lisbeth Salander, and many to Scandinavian crime fiction.

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Translated from Korean by Deborah Smith

The first South Korean book to win the International Man Booker Prize, The Vegetarian tells the story of one woman's act of unheard of subversion in her ordinary marriage - giving up meat. Han Kang paints a fascinating picture of modern day South Korea in this extraordinary novel, as well as asking questions about shame, desire and how we attempt to understand the lives of others.

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The Blue Room by George Simenon

Translated from French by Linda Coverdale

Recently translated afresh, The Blue Room is an addictive novel about the dark side of lust, set in Triant - a non-descript small town near Paris. When Tony and Andrée meet in the blue room at the Hôtel des Voyageurs, there are no rules. Their long-standing adulterous affair is intoxicating and passionate, but turns into a nightmare from which there can be no escape.

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Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Translated from Swedish by Steven T. Murray

When an old man is found killed in rural Sweden, and the killers are suspected to be immigrants, a wave of racist attacks threaten to bring disharmony to the sleepy town of Ystad in south-east Sweden. The first of Henning Mankell's books to feature troubled detective Kurt Wallander, Faceless Killers was first published in Sweden in 1990 to great critical acclaim.

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Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

Translated from Japanese by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies

Fourteen years after a kidnapping gone wrong and a girl never seen again, investigator Yoshinobu Mikami unearths hidden truths deep within the police force, and unearths fresh evidence that someone tried to hide forever. A multi-million copy bestseller in Japane and the first of Yokoyama's books to be translated into English, Six Four offers a fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture through the story of two missing girls.

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Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

Translated from Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

After a body is found in a shallow grave on a building site in Rejkjavik, an area previously all open hills and fields, Inspector Erlendur hopes it's a typical Icelandic missing persons case. However, this is not a body that has lain buried in the snow for years, and soon the Reykjavik murder investigation team unearth tales of violence that some had hoped would stay buried forever.

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For even more suggestions for great translated novels, watch the episode of #BookBreak below:

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