‘Tis clearly the season to be posting best reading lists (go here for more best books in France). I compared three French lists to get some idea of what is hot in France right now when it comes to crime fiction. It was a fun exercise and I rediscovered some non-French books that came out some years back, because translations usually come later, and sometimes even much later than the original publication. Unfortunately, none the French books mentioned have been translated into English (yet). There are so many to discover.

Two lists—the weekly L’Expresstop crime fiction novels in 2011 and the daily Le Monde’s best crime novels—agree on the top three:

  • Tiajuana Straits by Kem Nunn (published in English in 2004)
  • 220 Volts by Joseph Incardona, a Swiss writer living in Bordeaux (not available in English to my knowledge, published in 2011 in France)
  • L’année du rat (Year of the Rat) by Régis Descott (not available in English to my knowledge, published in 2011 in France)

Fourth place on Le Monde’s list goes to James Lee Burke’s 2007 The Tin Roof Blowdown (La nuit la plus longue, in French) and fifth to Yishaï Sarid’s Limassol (Le poète de Gaza in French). L’Express gives these honors to two French authors, Philippe Kleinmann and Ségolène Vinson, for their Double hélice (2011, not available in English to my knowledge), and to Greg Olear’s 2009 novel Totally Killer (same title in French).

Interestingly, neither of these lists has anything to do with the book retailer FNAC’s list of top-selling crime novels (at least when I looked):

  • Cyanure by the Swedish author Camilla Läckberg (2009; the Swedish title translates into Snowstorm and Scent of Almonds; not available in English to my knowledge)
  • Le Passager by French author Jean-Christophe Grangé (2011; also not in English, although he has other titles that have been translated)
  • Miracle Cure (Remède motel) by Harlan Coben (1991)
  • Before I Go to Sleep (Avant d’aller dormer) by SJ Watson (2011)
  • L’armée furieuse by Fred Vargas (2011, not yet in English)