“In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction. Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century. Historically, this period saw the development of many key aspects of the modern world (mechanized manufacturing, extensive urbanization, telecommunications, office life and mass-transit), and steampunk uses this existing technology and structure to imagine an even more advanced 19th century, often complete with Victorian-inspired wonders like steam-powered aircraft and mechanical computers.” ~Tor.com
From Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series to Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, from Roslund & Hellstrom’s Ewert Grens series to Jussi Adler-Olsen Department Q series, and my personal favorite (particularly when listened to in audiobook form, narrated by the warm, husky voice of Robin Sachs) Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole mysteries, Scandinavian crime novels have been all the rage for the past few years. If you haven’t checked out Jussi Adler-Olsen or Jo Nesbo and you enjoy perceptive, troubled detectives and extremely dark, psychologically twisted mysteries, do yourself a favor and pick up a book or two of their work. However, if you’re tired of the cold Scandinavian gloom and are looking for something similar, why not try heading south to the romantic and occasionally dangerous locale of Italy? To whet your appetite for fine Italian crime, consider the following:
- The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri. The first book in the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, set in a fictional Sicilian town. Touches of optimism peek through the gritty atmosphere.
- Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto. Set in Padua, Carlotto introduces hard-boiled noir detective, Mario Burratti, aka, the Alligator. A tale of corruption and revenge.
- A Walk in the Dark by Gianrico Carofiglio. A legal thriller set in Bari, featuring defense attorney Guido Guerrieri. 2nd in the Guido Guerrieri series. Unexpected plot twists merge with clever, sharp writing.
- Ratking by Michael Dibdin. The first in the Commissoner Aurelio Zen mystery series, set in Perugia. (Dibdin was born in Britain.) World-weary, cynical detective is balanced out with patches of dry humor.
- The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni. A noir detective novel featuring Sicilian Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono and set in Naples. Grim with memorable, lovelorn characters.
- Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. Queen of the Italian detective novel with a strong sense of place, Leon introduces Venetian police Commissario Guido Brunetti in the first of a long-running series. Exquisite descriptions and a world-weary, honest Detective.
- Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli. The first in the Commissario de Luca Trilogy, set in Italy as the tail-end of WWII. Gritty noir.
- Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb. The first installment of the Florence Inspector Marshal Guarnaccia series. (Nabb was an expatriate living in Italy.) Compassionate, self-effacing hero faces significant social and political troubles.
- A Private Venus by Giorgio Scerbanenco. Scerbanenco has been called “the Godfather” of Italian Crime; here he introduces disbarred doctor Duca Lamerti, the anti-hero of the series set in Milan. Bleak with unforgettable characters.
- To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia. An anti-hero mystery which provides an inside look at Sicilian life. A quick read with spare prose which delivers a powerful critique on Sicilian society.
Man Booker Prize Winners
Awarded to the finest fiction written by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.
Nebula Award Winners
Awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Inc. for Outstanding Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Hugo Award Winners
Awarded annually to the best book in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The awards are given in multiple categories, but only Best Novel is listed here unless otherwise noted.
Gold Dagger Awards
Awarded by the Crime Writer’s Association for the best crime novel of the year.