Reader Advisory

Another working day, doing what needs to be done.  A co-worker is out sick.  The departure of one of our best shelvers is beginning to tell:  the stacks need tidying badly.  Six of our aging public-access PC's on the second floor are out of commission due to a faulty switch in the network, making waits longer for a session. You shrug it off, put on a smile, and make yourself useful.

It was refreshing, then, when a man asked me to recommend some good "mysteries".  (There is a debate over what to call this genre.  Reviewers tend to use "crime fiction" nowadays.)  I asked him what he had read and enjoyed, crossing my fingers.  Would I know his "flavor"?  Would I have to resort to the print resource, Genreflecting?  I used to do a lot of reader advisory when I drove the bookmobile, because my collection was so small.  Here in Adult Services at the main library, I've gotten rusty.

He said he like mysteries with an international flavor and interesting locales.  He reeled off a string of authors,  all of whom I knew and liked:  Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteries set in Sicily, Ian Rankin's Edinburgh stories featuring John Rebus, Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri novels set in Laos,  Henning Mankell, whom I've not read, but whose television adaptations starring Kenneth Branagh I've seen.  He had read the old Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

I would not need Genreflecting after all.  I offered Marshall Browne's The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders and Michael Dibden's Aurelio Zen series, both set in Italy.  He might like Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series, set in Yorkshire, and John Harvey's Charlie Resnick Nottingham novels.  For Mankell "readalikes" I gave him the list of authors at Scandinavian Crime Fiction that I used for a very successful display last year.  I also suggested Chinatown Beat, by Henry Chang, but he'd read it, and Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel.

Returning from a browse in Fiction, he said he'd go with John Harvey for now.  He gave me a tip too. Camilleri's cop is named after a Spanish author, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, whose Barcelona-based Pepe Carvalho mysteries are not well-known here, but some of which have been published in English translation.

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