The first morning I woke up in Japan, I vowed to go out every single day and do something I couldn’t do in America. Ten years later, I’m still stopping in my tracks to puzzle over the good, the bad, and the utterly baffling. And you know what? I bet you do too!
Hi, I’m Jonelle Patrick, and I write mystery novels. I live in Tokyo and San Francisco. When I’m not writing about murder at the local shrine, I blog for GaijinPot and run a travel website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.
I also belong to the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime. At the moment I’m working on the fourth book in the Only In Tokyo mystery series.
That might already be more than you wanted to know, but just in case, here are…
My Favorite Animal
Things I Ate And Regretted
Things I Can’t Stop Eating Once I Start
My Favorite International Mystery Authors
What do international mystery/thriller writers read? Why, international mysteries and thrillers, of course! These are the writers who made me love the genre. Are any of them your favorites too?
SWEDEN – Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo: Before girls had dragon tattoos and Kurt Wallander became a household name, there was Martin Beck, my favorite Scando-cop.
ENGLAND – Phil Rickman: The Rev. Merrily Watkins is your basic C of E exorcist, but her work with the weird and unexplained often gets tangled up with murder. Plus, her fifteen-year-old daughter is one of my favorite characters ever.
TURKEY – Barbara Nadel: Inspector Ikmen and his crew represent the melting pot of religions and races that have uneasily coexited in Istanbul for centuries. Their investigations often delve into arcane subcultures and little-known practices.
NETHERLANDS - A.C. Baantjer: DeKok and his fellow Dutch policemen never fail to figure out the cleverest of crime puzzles.
FRANCE/NETHERLANDS – Nicholas Freeling: Freeling writes two series, one set in Holland and one in France, but both are smart and surprising and darkly insightful about human nature
FRANCE - J. Robert Janes: Set in occupied Paris during WWII, this series pairs a French Surete inspector with a German Gestapo detective and makes you love them both, as they work together to solve crimes and watch each other’s backs, maneuvering within a political situation they both hate.
ITALY – Michael Dibdin: Venetian Inspector Aurelio Zen’s cynical sense of humor gives him an edge hunting criminals all over Italy, putting the corruption and venial power plays within the Italian police to work for him.
SPAIN - Arturo Perez-Reverte: The Fencing Master isn’t part of a series, but its gorgeous writing and masterful storytelling about a fencing teacher in Madrid made it one of my favorite mystery reads.
ISRAEL - Batya Gur: Michael Ohayon is an all-too-human detective, plying his trade with brains and compassion, in one of the most socially, religiously, and politically complex cities in the world.
AFGANISTAN - Cheryl Benard: Moghul Buffet is also a stand-alone, not a series, but the characters are so vividly drawn and the situation so interesting, you wouldn’t guess that it was written by someone whose other works are scholarly treatises on the lives of Islamic women.
CHINA - Robert Van Gulik: Judge Dee lived in a time when magistrates were detective, judge and jury. His beyond-clever trapping of miscreants is like nothing else I’ve ever read.
AUSTRALIA - Arthur Upfield: Written in the 1940s, when Aboriginal peoples were barely beginning to be assimilated into white society, Upfield’s half-white, half-Aboriginal detective Napoleon Bonaparte (“Boney”) uses his uncanny native abilities to catch criminals in the Australian Outback.
Hey, why aren’t there any Japanese mystery/thrillers on the list?
Actually, it’s not because there aren’t gifted Japanese genre writers out there, it’s only because of my personal taste in books. I love stories that deliver insight into human nature and other cultures, rather than super-clever plots. Most Japanese mystery writers make teamwork the hero instead of developing individual characters, and emphasize unguessable plot twists over human relationships, so if I’m picking favorites, they don’t quite make the list.
If you do want to read a series set in Japan, of course you could always try these…