Books: Murder Most Exotic

Three detective novels from far-flung climes bring an extra layer of mystery to the gumshoe business

America is a stoutly murderous nation--the FBI reports we had 16,204 homicides in 2002. That's not exactly something to be proud of, but you'd think it would at least give us an edge in one of our prized national exports, the mystery novel. Agatha Christie aside, we pretty much owned the genre for a goodly slice of the 20th century. But it's time to admit that the cutting edge of mystery writing has shifted overseas. Damned outsourcing--where will it end?

Sweden's murder rate, for example (167 in 2001), is downright puny compared with ours, but that hasn't stopped Henning Mankell. His...

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