There’s a small publisher, Bitter Lemon Press, publishing crime fiction and thrillers in translation. As with Harvill (which has cornered the nordic crime market) and Serpent’s Tail (with the early David Peace, Walter Mosley, Vicki Hendricks et al), my experience to date is that this is another publisher whose involvement acts as a guarantee of, generally high quality, and at the very least thought-provoking and entertaining crime fiction. I’ve read a few of the books in the catalogue so far, some decent Italian and Cuban fiction, and have just finished two courtroom thrillers by Gianrico Carofiglio (an anti-mafia prosecutor) whose work deals with the usual courtroom cliches (the decent lawyer against the system) but whose central character Guido Guerreri, a defence lawyer, has enough flaws and prejudices to be well-rounded, and is placed in a convincingly-realised political environment. He has a Timson like regular clientele but the central case (in the first an immigrant wrongly accused, the second involving physical and emotional abuse) engages with bigger political questions. I’d recommend both INvoluntary WItness (the first) and A Walk in the Dark (the second). The latter includes a jeans wearing, martial arts obsessed nun. What more could you ask for?
Bitter Lemon are also pubishing the works of an interesting Swiss writer, Friedrich Glauser (who died young addicted to morphine after spells in psychiatric wards. He’s referred to in the publicity as a Swiss Simenon, and his central character Sergeant Studer certainly shares something of Maigret’s empathy. However, I think stylistically Glauser’s writing is more like Nicolas Freeling’s van der Valk series – with Glauser scraping beneath the veneer of Swiss society in a 1930s series that bear little relation to some of the mechanical golden age novels in the UK. Thumbprint is the first in the series and would give you an idea if the series is for you.