Month: December 2014

How Noir is Belfast ?

Adrian McKinty and Stuart Neville, in the introduction to the recently launched collection of short stories, Belfast Noir (N.Y., Akashic, 2014) describe Belfast, with some claims, as ” the noirest city on earth”.  The feeling seems to be shared by the international publishing industry. In so far at least as original titles of noir novels set in Northern Ireland have been changed,  in translation or for the U.S. Market, in order to feature the name of the city. Or have been produced originally, abroad, or domestically with a title using explicitly Belfast as a byword  for violence.  Here are a few examples of such “Belfastxploitation”, with some images for a view on Belfast, as reconstructed from the outside…


Sam Millar , Die Bestien von Belfast: Ein Fall für Karl Kane, Translator :  Joachim Körb

Atrium Verlag, Hamburg, 2013 (original, Bloodstorm, 2008). Continue reading

A comprehensive bibliography of Scandinavian Noir

Excellently documented as always,  Marginalia devotes this month a special issue to  Scandinavian Noir. For all readers of Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum,  Jo Nesbø or Arnaldur Indridason looking for more on the context of Nordic noir and eager to discover  Scandinavian crime authors old and new, this is a must.  Especially as it contains, too, a selected bibliography on works of criticism, such as the recently published book by  our friend Kerstin Bergman,  Swedish Crime Fiction: The Making of Nordic  Noir (Mimesis International, 2014). Readers curious about Swedish Crime Fiction from  the 1940’s, such as  Sture, Erik Yngve Högberg, Gertrud  Stendal, or Stieg Trenter,  or about Finnish Authors  Mika Waltari (1908-1979) and Mauri Sariola, or about the collaboration  of Maj Sjöwahl with Ross Thomas will want to read more…



The Beauty of Crime Fiction Collections

Gallimard Les chefsPicture1

Collection Les Chefs-d’œuvre du roman d’aventures (Librairie Gallimard, 1928- 1934)

 This prestigious “collection” (Publisher Series) predates the influential Série Noire, launched after W.W.2 with the same publisher,  the Librairie Gallimard in Paris.  International bestsellers of the crime genre, comprising Classics of mystery and detection novel (Austin Freeman) ,thrillers (E. Wallace)  and authors representative of the “golden age” of crime fiction (Van Dine) were  published here together with illustrious French heirs to the 19th Century’s Serials (Le Rouge). This is also were the first French translations of Hammett’s Glass Key and the Dain Curse were published. Continue reading

A Phantom Library

British paperback publisher Sphere Books, founded  in London in 1961 ambitiously undertook in 1968 the publication of the San-Antonio series. By that time, 70 novels pertaining to this Series had already been published in their original French.  Their titles are listed, together with an English translation in the frontmatter pages of the Sphere books. The reader’s curiosity was triggered, but never satisfied.   Only a few of the corresponding texts were to be translated.  Titles such as San-Antonio in the groove or Action all the way and Swim or sink, San-Antonio never were. Sphere only published seven San-Antonio, and gave up on the project by the end of 1969. What remains are titles without books, a library left incomplete. A vacant lot of titles, a literary ghost estate.

aphoto (1) Continue reading

Irish Noir in 75 Dates

Bruen index

Banville, Vincent Death by design Wolfhound Press 1994
McEldowney, Eugene  A Kind of Homecoming   Heinemann 1994
McNamee, Eoin Resurrection Man Picador 1994
Banville, Vincent Death the Pale Rider   Poolbeg 1995
Bateman, Colin Divorcing Jack  Harper Collins 1995  Betty Trask Prize

There are countless examples of Irish Crime Fiction troughout the 20th Century. Admittedly, in some cases the links between  a given  Crime  author and Ireland might be missed, or are by now forgotten. The prolific George A. Birmingham, for example  (James Owen Hannay, 1865 – 1950) was a Belfast born Church of Ireland clergyman. Some Irish authors rank amongst the most celebrated representatives of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, like the Dublin born Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957). Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis, 1904-1972) is another famous Ireland born  author of Britsh Mystery novels.The “noir” genre however starts in Ireland much later. For the most part it only began 20 years ago. Continue reading

Crime Fiction on a Parisian Street Map


With thanks to Fabien Cerbelaud and Remy Crouzevialle

The famous series of the San-Antonio Adventures (175 books published between 1949 and 2000) explores the parisian space. The following maps locate the parisian streets and places inscribed in the texts;   they  visualise  their repartition and evolution. The first map (above) focuses on the first decade of the San-Antonio production ; it is based on a systematic inventory of occurences spread across 30 books. The second map (below)  shows the results of a sample from books published during the entire span of the original series’s career. Continue reading

Discovering the “King of the French Kiosks”, in English language

US_C'est mort et ça ne sait pas

San-Antonio, Stone Dead (C’est mort et ça ne sait pas),

Translation Cyril Buhler,  Paperback Library, New York, 1970

There is a striking contrast between Georges Simenon’s status as an international bestseller, and his younger contemporary, once friend,  and main challenger in the French market, San-Antonio (aka Frédéric Dard). The latter, with his eponymous character, the Commissaire San-Antonio,  an ironic hardboiled counterpart to Simenon’s Maigret actually far surpassed Maigret in terms of sales in French, yet  is virtually unknown in the English speaking world. Too much of his  idiosyncratic verve seems to get lost in translation.  As American Scholar Susan Dorff once put it, in a survey published in the Armchair Detective,  San-Antonio, the king of the kiosks in France is also one of her best-kept secrets. With over 100 million San Antonios in circulation and 200 different titles, many of them published, at a point, in 600,000 mass-market paperback, this is a vast, and vastly untranslated continent, which English readers could only view from afar, if at all.

Here is a list  of English and US translations, with some images of how the books actually looked like.

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Out of the Slaughterhouse of Literature

One of the original aims of the current AHRC project on Crime Fiction Viz is to show books which are difficult to locate, or have been long forgotten ; to make the unread reappear ; to allow to see books, which had become virtually invisible. Such are the following novels,  original best-sellers but whose international career was hampered by a set of adverse circumstances. Many of them have been ignored,  lost, binned or destroyed. In some cases, there are probably only  few surviving copies spread across the world, and most  had been hidden for decades in obscure, opaque and remote,  private or public collections.


 San-Antonio, Moi, vous me connaissez? Kourier, Nijny Novgorod, 1992

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