It's a Mystery 5/15/2012

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Police Procedurals - European Style

Once again we'll venture away from American soil to take a look at some popular police procedurals set in Europe.  Since the British and Scandinavian mysteries are in a class by themselves, I'll concentrate on those in other European countries.

Italy is the location for several good mystery series.  Author Andrea Camilleri features Salvo Montalbano, a Police Inspector in the fictional town of Vigata on the island of Sicily.  Aside from the mystery being investigated, Camilleri, who lives in Rome, also provides details about the island, its fascinating people, and, of course, the food.  Montalbano has been described as "an unpretentious and honest Italian policeman who doesn't care who he offends when he is intent on solving the crime of the moment."

Donna Leon has chosen her beloved city of residence, Venice, as the setting for all of her novels, and the city is almost as important a character as her Commissario Guido Brunetti.  Reviewers praise the cast of characters, including Guido's wife, Paola, police secretary/researcher Elettra, his other colleagues, and Brunetti himself.  According to Barnes and Noble, "Brunetti is, indeed, one of the most appealing characters in crime fiction, and one of the pleasures of the series is the revelation of new and surprising facets to his personality.  Intellectual, introspective, and world weary, he is also happily married, totally committed to his job, and a lover of classical music, good food, and jokes."

If you have an interest in Spain, a series by Roderic Jeffries may appeal to you.  He has created the character of Police Inspector Enrique Alvarez of the resort island of Mallorca, Spain.  Described as a "delightful and entertaining series that never loses a step", Publishers Weekly goes on to depict Jeffries' most popular character as "a middle-aged man with a bit of a middle-aged spread [who] takes a diligent, unhurried approach to solving a crime."  Jeffries has also been an author in residence on Mallorca since 1972 and also incorporates the island, its people, customs, and food into his mysteries.

Traveling on to Greece brings us in touch with a series by another author in residence.  Former New York attorney Jeffrey Siger gave up his job and moved to the Greek island paradise of Mykonos to write his mysteries.  His novels feature Andreas Kaldis, a former Athens homicide detective who holds several law enforcement positions as the series progresses, including Chief Inspector of the Greek Police's Special Crimes Division.  Like the other series mentioned, these are also rich in the cultural history of the country.  According to the author, "Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis, an Athenian born second-generation cop, is a politically incorrect, honest observer of his times.  He endures and grows, despite all that life and the powerful throw at him and his beloved country."

The following series are not police procedurals, but are set in some of the most famous locales of Europe:

Cara Black - set in Paris, this series features Aimee Leduc, owner of a detective agency specializing in corporate secutiry.

Lindsey Davis - !st century Rome is the setting for these mysteries about Marcus Didius Falco, informer for Emperor Vespasian.

Peter May - named The Enzo Files, this series features Enzo Macleod, a Scottish biologist teaching at Cahors in southwest France, who bet that he could use his expertise to crack seven notorious murders described in a book on cold cases by Parisian journalist Roger Raffin.

Michael Pearce - traveling all over Europe, main character Sandor Pelczynski Seymour is a multilingual officer with England's Special Branch in the early 1900s.

Diane Stuckart - another historical series with Dino (Delfina in disguise as a boy), an apprentice to Leonardo da Vinci, court engineer to the Duke of Milan in 1480s Milan, Italy.

Frank Tallis - Max Liebermann, a psychoanalytic detective in turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna, Austria, is the main character in this series.

Anne Zouroudi - back to Greece for this series with Hermes Diaktoros, the Fat Man, a mysterious investigator from Athens.

Some New Mysteries due out in June:

Linda Castillo - Gone Missing (Kate Burkholder, police chief, Ohio Amish country)

Lee Goldberg - Mr. Monk is a Mess

Bryan Guley - The Skeleton Box (Gus Carpenter in the Starvation Lake series)

Peter Lovesey - Cop to Corpse (Peter Diamond Investigation)

Charles Todd - Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford mystery)

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