The weekend article in the Wall Street Journal discussing the latest publishing craze (international mystery novels) got me thinking about my reading habits. I don't have the financial resources for a first hand visit to Rome, Istanbul or Tokyo. But I can do the next best thing...pick up a book. An international mystery, to be more specific.

Thanks to the success of Stieg Larsson, author of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", publishers are frantically searching the world over for mysteries that take place the world over. And since murder is murder, no matter what language you speak, American readers have a lot of good writers to discover.

My preference for authors outside the lower 48 tends to favor our neighbor to the north, Canada, and they have some excellent crime writers who deserve a wider audience.

Vicki Delany writes a fine mystery series set in a small town called Trafalgar, with more than its share of secrets and murder.

Rick Mofina moves from British Columbia to New York and even the Middle East with his mysteries and thrillers, each setting recreated with first rate authenticity.

Sandra Ruttan pens a gritty series that is not for the feint of heart based in Vancouver. Her wicked writing easily ranks with (or above) many American best-selling authors that I can think of (and I'm thinking James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, Stephen King...)

Who knew Canadians could take such delight in the criminal underworld?

It's not that international mysteries are unknown here in the states ("The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency", is one). But compared to overseas readers, the U.S. has been positively xenophobic.

That's about to change.

You can read more about this trend in publishing at the Wall Street Journal's book section. If you're not a subscriber, you can access the article (Fiction's Global Crime Wave) through a link on my blog:

Enjoy your next destination!

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Strange story. Hadn't heard it. A serial killer actually is set free and now wants a pardon? Leaving aside the death penalty, wouldn't you think a serial killer should be put away permanently? What are they thinking of? Oh, and living under a new name really opens up new opportunities, doesn't it? How are people supposed to protect themselves against this person?
You have heard the story, guaranteed. Karla Holmolka and Paul Bernardo. The thing is the police at first didn't have a watertight case against Bernardo. So they made a deal with Holmolka, who they considered just to be an accessory anyway, that she would only get 12 years for a lesser charge if she helped them convict Bernardo. Which is what happened. Later video tapes were found showing Bernardo with the dead women, so Holmolka's testimony was not really required, but it was to late to undo the deal. Bernardo will never see the light of day again, but she was never convicted of murder so she is out.
Dear God. How can anyone trust her or the legal system? No, actually I don't remember the case. Our papers are full of our own serial killers. That sort of thing seems to proliferate. It's a power trip, I assume. Why is it that so many seem to need the power trip?
The idea that readers won't read a good mystery because (My God!) its set in Canada sounds so. . . artifical. Sounds a lot more like a publisher making excuses. The publisher is too afraid to buy the script because it's obviously out of the mold currently viewed as 'saleable.'
Could be, B.R. I guess that's why one should never overanalyze any rejection. Just accept No as a No and move on.
I have heard from an author friend who was told by her agent to move the setting from Toronto to NYC that books with a CDN setting really do sell poorly. It's not a myth. My friend moved her setting, and she has a big book coming out next year. Of course, as someone else said on this thread, it would be nice if Canadian readers wanted to read Canadian books wouldn't it.
If the setting can be moved it may not be such a big deal. But a guy like Matt Rees can't really switch Palestine for Peoria and have the same characters and story. Louise Penny makes good use of the history of the Eastern Townships in Quebec and the English-French dynamic.

Maybe we Canadians need to do more with the setting.
The idea that readers won't read a good mystery because (My God!) its set in Canada sounds so. . . artifical. Sounds a lot more like a publisher making excuses

Surely it isn't just the Candian setting.
What about books other than mysteries? The great Margaret Atwood doesn't have to set her novels in the U.S. for them to be published , to sell and be acclaimed by the critics. (BTW I love Margaret Atwood, and have read all of her books and much of her short fiction as well---she is a marvelous writer). Or is it because she belongs more to the "literary world" rather than to the world of genre fiction---that is, crime fiction, which may attract a lof of readers with a different agenda. I wonder.

If Margaret Atwood were to write a murder mystery set in Canada, I'll bet it would sell! There is always quite a bit of suspense in her novels, and even though they're not murder mysteries, there are certainly mysteries woven into her plots.
Sandra Ruttan pens a gritty series that is not for the feint of heart based in Vancouver.

Canadians, don't despair! Americans are reading your mysteries.

This morning I had to take my car in for some work, and was sitting in the very comfortable customer waiting lounge, reading a paperback mystery that I'd started the other day, when a very nice lady sat down next to me. She glanced at the cover of my book and said, "I have that book at home!"

The book? Sandra Ruttan's What Burns Within.

Joy (that was the lady's name) hasn't started it yet, but I gave it a thumbs up because I know, even though I've only read a couple of chapters that it's my kind of mystery--- immediately gripping---and that I'd discovered the author on CrimeSpace. Joy reads a lot of mysteries herself, and belongs to several book clubs. For about 1/2 hour, while we waited on our cars, we had a pleasant conversation about mysteries ---and other things.

But just think---two women meet in an auto lounge in Durham, NC, and they've both got a copy of Sandra Ruttan's "What Burns Within." I'll bet there are more out there like us. So Canadians---don't give up hope! We ARE reading your books. :)

Does it matter to me if this one is set in Vancouver? I don't know yet how much difference this setting will make to the story, but I am sure I would read it no matter where it was set, because I like this author's style.

Sandra--hope you are following this thread! :)
I hope so, too. This is really neat!
I'm not surprised that readers have discovered Sandra Ruttan's first novel, "What Burns Within". I reviewed this book back in 2008 on my blog. If you're interested, here's the original review. I don't think I revealed any crucial spoiler, but it's been so long, I can't really remember, so be forewarned:
I just wanted to add Giles Blunt to the list of Canadian crime writers. I've just finished reading the ARC of his new novel, Crime Mahine, which will be published in August and it's excellent. It's the fourth 'John Cardinal' novel, all set in Algonguin Bay in northern Ontario and while it would probaby be a good idea to start the series at the beginning, I think this one may be a breakthrough for Giles. I hope so.


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