The Widows of Malabar Hill: Sujata Massey

Published by Soho Press, Inc. This is more than just a crime novel: by setting it in India in the early 1900s, Sujata Massey paints a vivid portrait of the country and especially of the lives of the women at the time. The book starts in Bombay in 1921. The British are still in India, …

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Tyll: Daniel Kehlmann

Translated from German by Ross BenjaminPublished by riverrun The jester or trickster is a ubiquitous figure, popping up in mythologies, literature, street theatre, and in playing cards and tarot. He (it’s almost always a man) is an entertainer, mentally and physically agile, and able to speak truth to power. He lives by his wits and …

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The Moor’s Account: Laila Lalani

Published by Random House, Pantheon and Periscope History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. What we know of the conquest—or the invasion—of the Americas tends to come from those who conquered the land. This book gives another perspective—the narrator, Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, is among the Spanish conquistadores, but not …

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Tombland: CJ Sansom

I wasn’t going to write this, since I’ve already reviewed a book in the Shardlake series (Dark Fire). But Tombland is a little different—it is not just a murder mystery but also describes a little-known event in English history. The series centres around Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer in London, who used to work for …

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The Man Who Loved Dogs: Leonardo Padura

Translated from Spanish by Anna Kushner “If the social dream and economic utopia supporting it had become corrupt to the core, what remained of the greatest experiment man had ever dreamed of?” It is easy to forget today how seductive the idea of communism was for generations of intellectuals the world over. They were drawn …

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The Dictator’s Last Night: Yasmina Khadra

Translated from French by Julian Evans On 20 October 2011, the news was full of the capture of the Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, found hiding in a culvert in near Sirte. It was an unimaginable fall for the man who saw himself as the saviour of his people who, in turn, loved him. Outside Libya, …

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The Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles: Susanna Gregory

Monks and murder in the Middle Ages—an irresistible formula! Maybe it's the mixing of piety and nefarious doings that makes it so attractive. And a reason why this is one of my favourite crime series. It is set in Cambridge in the 14th century, and the detective is Matthew Bartholomew, a young physician who teaches medicine at …

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