Have you ever been to a place (monument, park, restaurant, etc.) mentioned in a novel?

This question was recently posted in twitter by Simon & Schuster @simonschuster. My choice is a market in Barcelona, La Boquería, were Pepe Carvalho often does his shopping. You can find more information at Boqueria website HERE (in English).

You can leave a comment to link with your blog showing your answer.

The Coffee Trader

How could I resist? I expect to receive The Coffee Trader by David Liss any time soon. Simply because:

  • Coffee, I like
  • History, I fancy
  • The price, was attractive (at The Book Depository)
  • The book and the author were mentioned by Norman at Crime Scraps, an excellent blog
  • Last but not least, I’ve been a commodity trader most of my working life

And I bought the book. How could I resist?

By the way José, Josseph or Joseph Penso de la Vega, best known as Joseph de la Vega (ca.1650, Espejo, Spain — November 13, 1692, Amsterdam, Netherlands), was a successful Jewish merchant, poet, and philanthropist residing in 17th century Amsterdam. He became famous for his masterpiece Confusion of Confusions, the oldest book ever written on the stock exchange business.” (from Wikipedia). A must read at all times, it should be a mandatory reading today.

“Amsterdam, 1659. On the world’s first commodities exchange, wealth is won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a crafty trader in the city’s close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this too well. Once among the most envied of merchants, Miguel has lost everything in a sudden shift in the sugar markets. Impoverished and humiliated, living on the charity of his petty younger brother, Miguel would do anything to change his fortunes.

Flouting the rulings of the Ma’amad, the restrictive and mysterious governing body of the Jewish community, Miguel enters into a partnership with a seductive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at success – a daring scheme to corner the market on an astonishing new commodity called coffee.

To succeed, Miguel will have to risk everything he values and test the limits of his commercial guile as he faces not only the chaos of the markets and the greed of his competitors, but also a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him fail. And he will learn that among Amsterdam’s ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere and even friends hide secret agendas.” (from David Liss homepage)

The Crime Fiction Alphabet: X is for Xiaolong, Qiu Xiaolong

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The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, has arrived this week to letter X. You can click HERE to find out the contributions of other fellow participants, please do visit their blogs. I’m sure that you will find out some interesting books to read.

My X is for Xiaolong. Qiu Xiaolong (1953) was born in Shanghai, China, and, since 1988, has lived in St. Louis, Missouri. A poet and a translator, he has an MA and a Ph.D. from Washington University. He is the author of Inspector Chen series (an Inspector with the Shanghai Police Bureau), including the award-winning Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer(2002), When Red Is Black(2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006),Red Mandarin Dress (2007), The Mao Case (2009), and Don’t Cry Tai Lake (due August 30, 2011).

He has also published a non-series book,Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai (2010), two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003) and Evoking T’ang(2007), and his own poetry collection, Lines Around China(2003).

You can find HERE my review of Death of a Red Heroine, winner of the 2001 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and a finalist for the 2001 Barry Award for Best First Novel and the 2001 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. At some stage I expect to read the next books in the series.

One of the aspects that interested me most of his books is that they refer to police work under a totalitarian regime, and in this sense analysing the relationship that may exist with other authors, such as Ernesto Mallo, Carlo Lucarelli or Pétros Markaris among others, whose main character, is carried out or it has been carried out under a totalitarian regime.

For additional information visit:

Surfing on the Internet, I came across this article on the history of crime fiction in China, which I hope you will find interesting.

El Alfabeto del Crimen: X es por Xiaolong, Qiu Xiaolong

El alfabeto del crimen, organizado por Kerrie en Mysteries in Paradise, llega esta semana a la letra “X”. Puede hacer clic AQUÍ para ver las aportaciones del resto de participantes, por favor visite sus blogs. Estoy seguro de que se encontrará con algunas recomendaciones interesantes.

Mi X es por Xiaolong. Qiu Xiaolong nació en Shanghai en 1953 y vivió en esa ciudad hasta 1966, año en que se trasladó a Estados Unidos. En la actualidad vive en St. Louis, Missouri, en cuya universidad imparte clases. Poeta y traductor al chino de clásicos norteamericanos, es sobre todo conocido por la serie de novelas policiacas protagonizadas por el inspector jefe Chen Cao, cuyo primer título Muerte de una heroína roja (2000) fue galardonado con el Premio Anthony a la Mejor Primera Novela y finalista del Premio Edgar. El resto de los títulos de la serie, publicados hasta el momento en España, son Visado para Shanghai (2002), Cuando el rojo es negro (2004), El caso de las dos ciudades (2006), Seda roja (2007) y El caso Mao (2009).

Uno de los aspectos que más me ha interesado de sus libros es que se refieren a la labor de la policía bajo un régimen totalitario y, en este sentido, analizar la relación que pueda existir con otros autores como Ernesto Mallo, Carlo Lucarelli o Pétros Markaris entre otros, cuyo protagonista también desarrolla o ha desarrollado su actividad bajo un régimen totalitario.

The Saint-Florentin Murders, by Jean-François Parot

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Translated from the French by Howard Curtis. Gallic Books, 2010. 416 pages. ISBN: 978-1-906040-24-6.

The Saint-Florentine Murders (original title: Le crime de l’hôtel Saint-Florentin) is the fifth book in the Nicholas Le Floch Mystery series. It has just been shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger Award this year. The book provides a short note, Background to The Saint-Florentin Murders, for those readers who, like me, arrive for the first time to this series.

Times are difficult for Nicolas Le Floch, a commissaire at the Châtelet under the direct authority of Monsieur de Sartine. Louis XV is dead. The new king Louis XVI has promoted Sartine to Minister of State for the Navy and Le Floch does not enjoy the confidence of his new boss, the current Lieutenant General of Police, Monsieur Lenoir.

The story opens when Le Floch services are required by the Duc de la Vrillière, Monsieur de Saint-Florentin and Minister of the King’s Household. One of his wife’s maids has been killed and his major-domo has been found wounded and unconscious with a knife besides him. Everything seems that, having killed the girl, he tried to punish himself by committing suicide. The enquiry will endanger Le Floch’s life while taking him to places as different as the Trianon and Bicêtre, in Versailles and Paris.

The story provides an accurate picture of the time in which the events took place, and it is very well documented. It may very well please those who, like me, enjoy history and historical novels. The crime investigation plays a secondary role and the culprit can be easily identified, but the interest will remain in finding out the evidence to incriminate him. Unfortunately, as pointed out by Norman at Crime Scraps, the book is about 100 pages too long and has far too many details that may distract the attention of the reader from what, otherwise, would have been an excellent historical novel.

Jean-François Parot is a diplomat and historian. The Châtelet Apprentice was his first novel and the first in a series of Nicolas Le Floch mysteries followed by The Man with the Lead Stomach, The Phantom of Rue Royale, and The Nicolas Le Floch Affair. Besides The Saint-Florentin Murders,there are four additional books in the series that have not been published in English yet.

The Saint-Florentin Murders has been reviewed by Karen at Euro Crime and Norman at Crime Scraps.

For additional information check at:

I’m counting this book for the seventh continent (history) leg on Dorte’s 2011 Global Reading Challenge.

Los Crímenes de Saint-Florentin de Jean-Francoise Parot

Los crímenes de Saint-Florentin (título original: Le crime de l’hôtel Saint-Florentin) es el quinto libro de la serie de misterio Nicolas Le Floch investiga. Acaba de estar nominada para el CWA Intertional Dagger Award de este año. El libro ofrece una breve nota, sobre los antecedentes de Los crímenes de Saint-Florentin, para aquellos lectores que, como yo, llegan por primera vez a esta serie.

Corren tiempos difíciles para Nicolas Le Floch, un comisario del Châtelet bajo la autoridad directa del señor de Sartine. Luis XV ha muerto. El nuevo rey Luis XVI ha promocionado a Sartine como Ministro de Estado para la Marina y Le Floch no tiene la confianza de su nuevo jefe, el actual Jefe General de la Policía, el señor Lenoir.

La historia comienza cuando los servicios de Le Floch son demandados por el duque de la Vrillière, señor de Saint-Florentin, ministro de la Casa Real. Una de las doncellas de su esposa ha sido asesinada y su mayordomo, herido e inconsciente, ha sido encontrado con un cuchillo a su lado. Todo parece indicar que, después de matar a la joven, trató de castigarse suicidándose. La investigación pondrá en peligro la vida de Le Floch, al tiempo que le llevará a visitar lugares tan diferentes como el Trianon y Bicêtre, en Versalles y en París.

La historia ofrece una imagen muy precisa de la época en la que los acontecimientos tuvieron lugar, y está muy bien documentada. Puede muy bien agradar a los que, como yo, disfrutan con la historia y con las novelas históricas. La investigación del crimen desempeña un papel secundario y el culpable puede ser identificado fácilmente, pero el interés se mantendrá en la búsqueda de la evidencia que lo incrimine. Por desgracia, como ha señalado Norman en Crime Scraps, el libro tiene unas 100 páginas de más así como demasiados detalles que pueden distraer la atención del lector de la que, de lo contrario, húbiera sido una excelente novela histórica.

Jean-François Parot es un diplomático e historiador. Sus tres primera novelas de la serie Niolás Le Floch, comisario en el Chatelet están disponibles en España, El enigma de la calle Blancs-Manteaux, El hombre del vientre de plomo y El fantasma de la calle Royale, publicadas por EDHASA.

New Challenge: Crime Fiction on a EuroPass

The 2011 Crime Fiction Alphabet, hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, is coming up to its last three letters. Her proposal is now to embark us on a 12 stage European Journey in Eurail Pass style. As our travel agent she has chosen 12 destinations for our journey over 12 weeks starting on Monday 1 August. Click HERE for additional details.

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