International Crime Month: Melville House

melville house

~post by Molly O.

Melville House’s International Crime imprint has ambitious aims and far-reaching follow-through. They mean to publish international authors whose work compares favorably to the early English language masters of noir. As a radically oriented publisher, they concentrate on crime fiction in which solving a crime serves as a metaphor for exposing societal injustice. Melville House’s International Crime imprint prefers to place its authors in the spotlight rather than promote the imprint itself. I was impressed to note that behind the stand-alones and series lies a consistent philosophy and attention to detail that makes each Melville International Crime release a self-contained gem.

Although Melville House’s International Crime imprint is, to this point, a small imprint, it represents a burgeoning group of diverse authors with wide-ranging subject matter. Each author has a strong sense of place that makes “international” of equal weight to “crime.” Because Melville prefers to emphasize authors and their oeuvres, I will give a brief run-down of some of the various series they have released.

Austrian Wolf Haas, one of Melville’s most prominent crime fiction novelists, writes darkly humorous novels satirizing just about every aspect of modern-day Austrian life. His latest novel, Come Sweet Death, was recently reviewed on our blog.

Polish author Marek Krajewski’s novels are comparable to those of Phillip Kerr or Alan Furst as his protagonist, policeman Eberhard Mock, attempts to solve small crimes within the larger crime of 1930s fascism.

Frenchman Didier Daeninckx engages in left-wing politics when he is not writing socially critical detective novels. His crime fiction has had a powerful political impact on France’s willingness to address WWII-era war crimes in the public sphere. His latest release, Nazis in the Metro, serves as a powerful condemnation of right-wing extremists and, although written in 1995, seems even more relevant today in light of recent European election results.

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, born in Illinois and raised in Kenya, is two books deep into a series featuring Detective Ishmael, a policeman embroiled in politically motivated murders at home and abroad. His first two crime novels are Nairobi Heat and Black Star Nairobi.

As their International Crime Imprint continues to grow, Melville House has published increasingly diverse voices always willing to engage in edgy and biting social criticism. These authors never sacrifice story to polemics, however, and each author published by Melville House becomes an instant part of the contemporary noir cannon. They are also committed to bringing us classic crime fiction long-since out of print. One of their most exciting new authors, Giorgio Scerbanenco, has been described by Melville as the “Father of Italian noir” and the “Italian Simenon,” and Melville has just released Traitors to All, the first volume in his seminal 1960s Milano Quartet.

All of these books are available here on our shelves at BookPeople and via, come check them out!



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