May 16, 2021

Book Day: five good current crime novels written by women | Elementary Blog


The crime novel has long been has progressively ceased to be a more or less private preserve of the white man middle class or similar, but it never hurts to celebrate diversity by focusing the shot on a set of novelties of different literary depth but that are worthwhile in any case. Thrillers well-built and original approaches, an unclassifiable and at times great product from Ottessa Moshfegh and two more than surprising premieres make up this list.

There’s no more? Of course. If you fancy a good thriller, for example, they can visit the work of Ruth Ware (Salamander has three of her books) or, if his is the police, in what we hope the new of Tana French in May, they can delight in the adventures of Jackson Brodi recounted by the original voice of Kate Atkinson (AdN has recovered the first two of the series and also released the last one so far, Endless sky).

So why these? Because they have been in bookstores for a short time, because, except for one, they are authors not so well known in Spain and, above all, because I have read them and I think they are worth it. Come, read, choose and go shopping.

Death in his hands, Ottessa Moshfegh (Alfaguara, translation by Inmaculada C. Pérez). Since My name was eileen (Alfaguara), Moshfegh has taken the trouble to stretch the edges of the genre and get in and out of it comfortably. This time he skillfully plays with some topics from the classic mystery novel in a story that also talks about the effects of loneliness and isolation. Vesta Gul is on her walk through the woods of her estate with a note that tells of the death of a woman named Magda. Who has written it? Who is the victim? Why have they killed her? And where is the body? These are some of the questions that Mrs. Gul asks herself, trying to reconstruct the crime in her head without even knowing if it has happened. But nothing is conventional in its development, there is an almost gloomy scene with a masterful rhythm, you can feel the anguish of the protagonist, her progressive obsession, her crises. It is an original novel about which it is better not to say much more.

You are dead, nothing can harm you, Nicola Maye Goldberg (RBA, translation by Juan Pascual Martínez). We return to the surprising approaches in this novel that starts from a clear premise: we know what has happened from the first page, we know that Sara has been slit her throat by her boyfriend. What Goldberg does is bring us closer to the figure of the victim through the effect that his death has had on other lives (his sister, his father, a journalist who is obsessed with the case, a friend of the murderer, etc). The construction of the book, in the form of short stories that end in the middle – pure Carver style, which is also related to his portrait of contemporary dissatisfaction – helps to have a complete perspective of the crime from various points of view. I love the approach to fear of women besieged by the macho monster. And all this supported by a police structure built with efficiency.

Rosa Ribas, in Barcelona in September 2019.
Rosa Ribas, in Barcelona in September 2019.

Good children, Rosa Ribas (Tusquets). The Hernándezes are back, the family of detectives that debuted in An all too familiar affair, a somewhat dark group but what family is not if you look closely enough? The control that Ribas has of the classic police officer is mixed with reflection on the family and with an independent development of the plot of each of the characters that manages to hook the reader. “If you know all the secrets of people, you will not be able to love them,” says one of the brothers at one point in the novel. Secrets, lies, loyalty and betrayal are intertwined in this novel that does not lose sight of the procedural. There are several cases that open and close and a central criminal plot, which Ribas manages with pause and rhythm. Here, the Hernandezes have to investigate the suicide of a young woman, a case that will change them forever and lead them down dark paths. “I needed to know”, two words that mark the lives of Nora, Amelia, Marc, Mateo, Lola … “Let’s go for them”, says the matriarch at the turning point of the novel and the lives of this peculiar family that knows swimming through dark waters but does not emerge unscathed from his adventures. Life, as is.

The Oxford basement, Hunter face (Duomo, translation by Begoña Prat). There are many things about this novel that I like. The first is that it is a classic police officer. Imagine one of Tana French or Line of duty. This is where the thing goes. That is to say: conventional but very good. The second: it is set in Oxford and the Thames Valley police come out. Detective Morse fans already know where I’m going. The third has to do with the protagonist. Hunter has a character of the profile and complexity of Fawley and does not abuse him, he gives space to others to form a choral story. The first person you use to deal with the moments in which Fawley appears was strange to me because of the contrast with the rest, but it works. Ah! What is it about? Well, from the discovery in the basement of an old man with the beginning of senile dementia of a young woman and a boy with signs of having been locked up there for a long time. It sounds familiar, right? Well, the agents pull the thread and with this plot excuse a very solid police force is built.

Miracle’s trial Creek, Angie Kim (Motus, translation by Constanza Fantin). Could not miss a good thriller judicial in this selection. The author won the Edgar for the best first work with this novel. What did the jury of the prestigious award see in this court account? Well, I imagine that what is obvious: that the rhythm is good, the surprises are in place, the great issues that it addresses (mothers collapsed due to their obligations, racism, vital failures) only appear in their proper measure, etc. What is it about? Well, it is the story of a South Korean family who emigrated to the United States who makes a living with a hyperbaric capsule offered as an alternative therapy for children with serious problems. When the capsule explodes and the fire causes the death of several patients, all eyes are directed towards the mother of a child with autism, who curiously was not there at the time and whose behavior makes her the main suspect. From there, the big questions. What would you do to save your family from the worst? Why is there always someone who lies? A very good first novel that serves as a presentation here of Motus, an editorial project that has landed strongly in Spain.

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