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Simenon - master of suspense and motive

Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret

Crime writer Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote 75 Maigret novels and 28 Maigret short stories. Penguin Classics are reissuing them all in translation and they are well worth checking out.

  • Danilo Kiš - a marvellous story-teller, newly translated in Penguin

    Danilo Kiš The Encyclopedia of the Dead

    Set in different historical periods, Danilo Kiš's collection of stories, The Encyclopedia of The Dead opens up obscure lives from the past with highly imaginative flair and delicacy. Much more than mere period pieces, Kis's stories are unique marvels.

  • Edith Hall's account helps us understand where the Greeks are coming from, in terns of national characteristics that still abide, many centuries after the country's birth.

    Edith Hall Introducing The Ancient Greeks

    To help us understand the Greeks - both the ancient race and by extension the modern for there is obvious continuity - Edith Hall has written a fascinating book which is erudite, witty and accessible.

  • In the Night of Time: engaging story of a torrid affair between a Spanish architect and an an American woman

    Antonio Muñoz Molina In the Night of Time

    This highly compelling novel vividly recalls the Spanish Civil War but its main focus is the love affair between a Spanish architect and an American woman.

  • The Trigger: Forensic yet deeply compelling account of the Balkan origins of the First World War

    Tim Butcher The Trigger

    Gavrilo Princip is still infamous in school history texts as the radicalised teenager saddled with responsibility for starting the First World War. Tim Butcher's magisterial work teases out the complex truth about his role in the conflict.

  • The celebrated author of the Maigret stories also wrote a series of striking novels which did not feature his intrepid Inspector. The Blue Room is one of the best.

    Georges Simenon: The Blue Room

    Tony is married to Gisele and they have a young daughter, while childless Andrée is the wife of sickly Nicolas. Tony and Andrée's illicit affair will lead to certain tragedy, in Georges Simenon's beguiling crime thriller.

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

    David Shafer: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    Paranoid, sarcastic and revolving around an internet conglomerate's attempts to steal the data of every person in the world and sell it back to them; Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a novel that is firmly rooted in the 21st century.

  • Krasznahorkai: human stories told in long, beguiling sentrences

    László Krasznahorkai Seiobo There Below

    László Krasznahorkai, the winner of this year's Man Booker International Prize is a boldly experimental writer of fiction, who pushes the boundaries, but tells compelling, human stories from across the centuries.

  • Barnes on art: benignly perceptive as in the best of his (mostly) wonderful work to date

    Julian Barnes Keeping an Eye Open

    This new collection from the amiable Francophile gathers his various writings through the years on art. It's chatty, benignly perceptive and has well-presented reproductions of the paintings under consideration.

  • Poems and photographs of Bull Island in all its stark beauty.

    Pat Boran: Waveforms Bull Island Haiku

    This 120-page, pocket-size excursion around Bull Island is Pat Boran's homage in Haiku and photographs to the airy, aqueous spirit of that special place.

  • The Girl Missing From the Window: brave confrontation with contemporary Irish realities

    Paul O'Reilly The Girl Missing From the Window

    The Girl Missing From The Window is often topical in its small town scenarios, yet the collection transcends topicality with style and mastery, as it delves deep into utterly convincing human stories.

  • A neglected gem whose essential sentiment could apply to many wars and many a soldier home on leave

    Daniel Anselme On Leave

    First published in French as La Permission, On Leave appeared at the height of the Franco-Algerian war in 1957. The story concerns three soldiers back in Paris on leave. It's like Hemingway with the gaps filled in and it is a masterpiece.

  • In The Beginning Was The Sea is baleful in tone and captivating to read but there are some infelicities within its relatively short 154 pages.

    In The Beginning Was The Sea Tomás González

    In The Beginning Was The Sea by the Colombian author Tomás González was first published in Spanish in 1983. The unsettling tale is shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015, the winner of which will be announced on May 27.

  • Elizabeth Bishop, Pulitzer Prize -winning poet and Poet Laureate of the United States, 1949-1950.

    Colm Tóibín - On Elizabeth Bishop

    The Irish writer Colm Tóibín has had a long fascination with the American poet Elizabeth Bishop whose poems he discovered in the 1970s. Bishop's careful, watchful style has clearly influenced the form and tone of Tóibín's own writing.

  • Eamonn Wall: his best poems work through mesmeric, delicately-figured images

    Junction City New & Selected Poems Eamonn Wall

    Eamonn Wall has resided in various cities of the United States since 1982 and his Irish accent bears traces of disparate influences. This new selection of verse (1990 to 2015) reveals a highly-gifted poet.