Criminal fiction does not rest: great crime novels for the beginning of 2022 | Elemental | Culture

The first months of the year are one of the best times for the black genre in bookstores. Pushed by the force of an increasingly international and powerful BCNegra, publishers are encouraged to present some of their best assets to attract readers and enter the conversation generated by the Barcelona event. If, in addition, a few good looking Spanish debuts are added (we will have to see later), the incombustible breath of some classics (alive and already deceased, from Don Winslow to Andrea Camilleri) and other strong bets in neighboring genres (espionage and true crime, above all) we find a vast menu that quickens the pulse of this reader just thinking about it.

Don Winslow is the proper name for this start of the season. The author of The power of the dog The The cartel He will receive the Pepe Carvalho Prize in Barcelona in February for a career marked by some of the most powerful novels of the genre in the last two decades. We will have to wait, however, until April to read Burning city (Harper Collins), the beginning of a series about the mafia whose first installment responds to the ambition of the company. Before we will have other big names. In January, the Scotsman Charles Cumming closes with London connection (Black Salamander) his Thomas Kell series, the best spy I’ve read since John Le Carré and Charles McCarry. She came in through the bathroom window (Alfaguara) is the new installment of the adventures and misfortunes of El zurdo Mendieta, the series that has placed Elmer Mendoza among the most prominent authors of criminal fiction in Spanish. They can read it directly or go to the first of the series (previously in Tusquets) and get hooked on this character and the language, pure literary boast, of Mendoza. If you do not know or have not frequented the narco-literature, this is its author.

Mike Herron (left) and Charles Cumming in 2019 in Barcelona.
Mike Herron (left) and Charles Cumming in 2019 in Barcelona.JUAN BARBOSA (THE COUNTRY)

Great name also Javier Cercas, who in March continues with the third installment of his Terra Alta trilogy with Bluebeard’s castle (Tusquets). It is a series that goes beyond the genre, in which current problems are addressed from a story that also enters the western world but, you know, we have always been in favor of an open approach to the crime novel.

Don’t let them pass …

There are authors who are not on the front page of the genre in Spain, but who should not be missed by fans. Esther García Llovet has shown with Sánchez and then with Fairground fat man (Anagram) his ability to speak of dark characters who live on the margins and aspire to little. Now he embarks on the Trilogy of the Eastern Countries whose first installment, Spanish Beauty (in Anagrama in a few days), takes us to a Benidorm full of English mobsters, Russian millionaires, crappy basement pool tables and half-built skyscrapers. These ingredients, in the hands of García Llovet, promise.

All the culture that goes with you awaits you here.


Esther Garcia Llovet, in Madrid in early 2021.
Esther Garcia Llovet, in Madrid in early 2021.Bald Elm

Alan Parks is making his place with the Harry McCoy novels, which from the first installment (Bloody january) give us a good helping of tough cop in 1970s Glasgow. A complex character and well installed in the dark part of life – baby, he does not disgust drugs and is somewhat corrupt -, well equipped music and plots. The last, Bobby March will live forever (in January in Tusquets) confirms everything said. It will also be in BCNegra.

If you want something classic police, each in its own way, with a good dose of procedural, you have Caz Frear and Cristina Cassar Scalia. The first brings in AdN Forbidden to cry, while the second comes from the hand of Duomo with Black sand, an adventure in Catania, with Etna in the background, by the Deputy Commissioner of the Judicial Police, Giovanna Garrasi, known as Vanina. If you don’t know this character, this is a great opportunity.

Now, if you want good plots, excellent characters and stories from cozy crime with literary quality, be sure to visit the series by the police officer Armand Gamache by the Canadian Louis Penny, from which we will receive in the coming weeks A deadly offense (Black Salamander). There are many, you can start with this without problem or go to Bury the dead (2016) and to eat a recommendable quebecois crime binge.

Personal endeavors

It is not the first time that I speak to you about Arantza Portabales, who writes sober genre novels with good plots, something that may seem little, but it is much seen some nonsense. Did it in Red beauty and in The Secret Life of Úrsula Bas, so we look forward to March Surviving, in which he also moves to the world of reality TV.

Following this section of personal endeavors, I really liked A southern copby John McMahon, a novel set in deep America, so I’m looking forward to The evil of good men (RBA).

And in this category we could put Alexis Ravelo, who won with The borrowed names the Café Gijón 2021 award. The novel is edited by Siruela, where the canary has already published the excellent A guy with a bag over his head (guess what it’s about). From the novels of Eladio Monroy (who is recovering Alrevés) and the rogue literature commanded by the excellent The Pekingese’s strategy (Dashiell Hammett Award), Ravelo is one of the great names of the genre in Spanish.

Andrea Camilleri in BCNegra in 2014.
Andrea Camilleri in BCNegra in 2014.GIANLUCA BATTISTA

Two Sicilian classics and one American

Andrea Camilleri’s ability to produce has left work to be published in Spanish after her death. Alcyon’s Cook (Salamandra) is the penultimate of the Montalbano series. You know: Mediterranean irony, slow pace, good literature, better food. You can not ask for much more. Of course, you have to wait until March. The consolation: from the opening The shape of water there are many to go into his universe.

And also Mediterranean and Sicilian but with a different tone, Tusquets continues to bring us little by little the work of Leonardo Sciascia, whose centenary was commemorated in 2021. In this case The day of the owl Y The context. For some, the first is Sciascia’s best novel. In both, corruption and lies, crude crimes and other elegant ones. Essential.

As essential is all the work of James Sallis, one of the greats of the genre. Not only wrote Driver, sino but also all six Lew Griffin novels (come back to them for a mix of metaliterature, poetry and crime in darker New Orleans) and now it comes with Sarah Jane (RBA).


In this field that I like to frequent so much, we have two great novelties of very different conditions. On the one hand, Pierre Lemaitre arrives with his Passionate Dictionary of the Crime Novel (Salamander, in February). As he himself admits, “there will be some forgetfulness.” I know of more than one who is already looking for it. On the other hand, we have a remarkable true crime titled Arsonistby Michael Cannel (RBA). A very powerful story that proves, once again, the success with which Antonio Lozano is selecting this type of works for the Black Series (see if not The faceless assassin, Shadow Eaters and others).

Attentive to …

Chris Whitaker, author of We start at the end (Salamandra, at the end of January) one of the novels that was most talked about in 2020 and 2021 in the Anglo-Saxon sphere. Do not get lost because your publisher has not published it in the genre collection: it is good and black on all four sides. Main of the books publish The darkest nightby Robert Bryndzna, a book in the style of The silence of the lambs which is being an international success. Santiago Díaz, who after receiving The good father, come back with The other girls (ReservoirBooks). Of the thrillers of those with tachycardia.

And there are names to populate the genre in Spanish, writers who make their debut, or who reach the first division and that we will see in the next three months. Santiago Álvarez, who already has two novels under his belt, arrives at AdN with Soul bite, violence, western and thriller in the same pack. Virgina Feito premieres with all the noise in the world (and television adaptation included) with Mrs. March (Lumen). There is terror and also black genre, apparently. It will be necessary to see how far the phenomenon reaches. David Orange with You will break the night with a scream (Planet), Teresa Cardona (Both sides, Siruela), Santiago Vera (The Secret Life of Sarah Brooks, Ediciones B) or Miryam Imedio with The most remote island in the world (the first of several forays that RBA’s Black Series is going to make in the genre in Spanish in the coming months) complete this start of 2022 again well populated with readings for all kinds of lovers of the genre. There are no excuses. Buy, read, enjoy. Long live the black!

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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