Saturday, October 02, 2010

Five best: international crime fiction

Geoffrey O'Brien is a poet, editor, and cultural historian. He is editor in chief for the Library of America. His nonfiction books include The Fall of the House of Walworth, Hardboiled America, Dreamtime, The Times Square Story, Red Sky Café, and Sonata for Jukebox.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of international crime fiction.

One novel on his list:
The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez, 2005

Set among mathematicians in an Oxford that seems, at first, as comfortingly abstract as a calculus equation, this Argentinian novel is a puzzle mystery that pays homage to that very old school of mystery-writing that thrived on mystification and decipherment: G. K. Chesterton, the creator of Father Brown, is appropriately invoked at one crucial point (along with such other high-level game-players as Gödel, Wittgenstein, and Lewis Carroll, not to mention an ancient contingent of Gnostics and Pythagoreans). The gaming in "The Oxford Murders" runs deep, but the book plays eminently fair with its mélange of serial murders, logical paradoxes and ominous encrypted messages. Most remarkable is the level of emotion stirred as the strands of convoluted speculation finally converge. While the novel is steeped in the most primordial pleasures of detective fiction, Guillermo Martínez found some brilliant new uses for those old devices.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue