Friday 12 September 2008

The world of crime

When it comes to international crime fiction, there are a few experts whose opinion is always worth listening to. Eurocrime's Karen Meek is one. Bob Cornwell, a contributor to CADS, Tangled Web UK, Crime Time and other publications, is another. Bob has kindly volunteered a guest blog about the subject that is so close to his heart. Here it is.

'Crime fiction in translation in the UK, as you are almost certainly aware, is currently enjoying an unprecedented boom. Fifty-plus titles in 2007, more in 2008. Perhaps you have read one or two, Henning Mankell or Boris Akunin perhaps – or The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez (all recent best-sellers), or perhaps you read across the spectrum. And if you are like me, you probably wanted to know a little bit more about the author and his background than that all-too brief, sometimes inaccurate outline on the book jacket. Of course the internet has made such research much easier in recent times. But it is rare to find the information all in one place, still less in English.

It was thoughts like these that lead to the start of a new series, under the umbrella title Crime Scene Europe, now appearing in the pages of Crime Time magazine. Produced under the auspices of the International Association of Crime Writers (better known as AIEP, the Asociación Internacional de Escritores Policiácos, on account of its Latin-American origins), it is subtitled A Practical Guide.

The first in the series features France. To ensure up-to-date and accurate information as far as possible, each profile will be compiled within the country under examination. That for France was compiled by BILIPO (Bibliothèque des littératures policières), that unique institution at the heart of French crime fiction. The full profile is available as part of a FREE downloadable PDF from

It consists of a brief historical introduction to give some context to the modern scene; the rest is entirely concerned with what is happening now. It tries to cover the current best-selling writers (whether local or in translation); the key trends in local crime writing and publishing; the bookshop scene, both chains and specialists; where to find news and reviews (usually in the local language of course); the major crime fiction prizes and the most recent winners, along with the key festivals. All sprinkled with relevant websites to enable follow-up from those wanting to take their interest even further. You might even find it useful if you happen to visit the country in question!

The Netherlands and Switzerland are next in line, with Spain, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Italy to follow. Other European countries are being recruited. At some stage I hope we can extend the idea to areas beyond Europe, to the vital crime scenes of Japan and Latin America for example.

Currently space is a limitation but, at a later stage, it should be possible to incorporate any useful suggestions that you, as a user of the information, might want to make. I await such comments with great interest.'


Xavier said...

Good, but where is Paul Halter? Also, I am not sure Frank Thilliez can be labelled as "neopolar".

Anonymous said...

Very nice post. I met Bob Cornwell at a literary event and he told me about this series, which does sound great.
However, I went to the website a week or so ago and had a bit of trouble with the registration ordering system, which was frustrating (as I prefer to buy the magazine rather than to read online). I should try again, now that I've been reminded of it.