Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Crime Fiction to Track Down: Christopher West's China Series, and the British Crime Fiction of Ruth Dudley Edwards

I just finished reading an advance copy of Henry Chang's November release, RED JADE, which is the third in his Chinatown trilogy featuring Detective Jack Yu. Jack's home turf is New York City's Chinatown; RED JADE picks up the trails of two killers that eluded Jack in Chinatown Beat and Year of the Dog. Sometimes it takes me a while to decide how to shape a review, so while I mull this one over, I've been looking around ... and pulled off the shelf the Summer 2006 issue of Mystery Readers Journal. This issue features "Murder in the Far East" (wish it said "Asia" instead). Ten articles and an extra sidebar introduce work by authors who link their mysteries to Japan and China, and others go to India, Laos, and other Asian locations. It's a stunning collection of articles, packed into 80 pages of focused, passionate writing; look around for a copy or see if you can get a back issue from Mystery Readers International (

The trouble with browsing here, of course, is discovering authors I hadn't realized I'd missed. Now added to my list: Christopher West, whose books set in China begin with Death of a Blue Lantern (HarperCollins UK 1994, Berkeley Prime Crime 1998). I also found West's web site ( -- careful with the suffix, there are other authors named Christopher West), and the very enjoyable linked blog.

Most frustrating: This is the second time this week I've found an author whose books have flown onto the "must catch up" list. The other one is Ruth Dudley Edwards. Born in Dublin, her mysteries are set in England, as far as I can tell from a quick look at the one we've got here (Matricide at St Martin's) and at her website, which emphasizes her roles as journalist and satirist and her enduring connection to Ireland. And what makes me convinced that I need to read her work is the presence of a note of thanks to her in the acknowledgments in Stuart Neville's new book Collusion. Anyone thanked so simply and sincerely by Neville has to be worth tracking down and reading, I figure.

I'm not just reading "foreign" mysteries this week -- I doubled up and read an advance copy of the newest Vermont romantic suspense novel from Carla Neggers, and it's a keeper. Reviews ahead, as things settle into place. And I haven't forgotten about that Dennis Lehane one ... what an amazing season of mysteries being released. Sure wish this were the only thing I needed to get done.

Oops -- heading back to the kitchen to preserve some of the garden's harvest. That's the really tight deadline, with the second half of September just arriving.

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