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Books and Series > European Pulp and Noir

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message 1: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
I'm taking a trip to several cities in Europe pretty soon and making some stops at local book sellers along the way.

Ideally I'd like to be able to buy some classic genre stuff written in the countries that we stop in (but translated in to English) yet I'm struggling to find much in the way of titles and authors to look out for.

Do any of you fine fellows have any suggestions for pulp crime (maybe classic sci-fi too) from the following countries:

Denmark
Austria
Sweden
Hungary
Germany
France
England

No rush but any suggestions would be appreciated.

From what I can tell there wasn't joy in the pulp crime department in Denmark and Sweden until recently and I'd rather not buy Steig Larssen cash-in titles, preferring those that came before. The Martin Beck series is covered however.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 260 comments Donald Hamilton was born of immigrant Swedish parents & lived there at the end of his life, I believe. His Matt Helm series has
The Wrecking Crew set in Sweden
The Devastators set in England/Scotland
The Terminators set in Norway
The Vanishers set in Sweden
Not sure if that really fits the pulp or noir categories. I'm not good at pigeon-holing things.

Hjalmar Söderberg was an early SF writer from Sweden. I don't know if he published in any pulps, though.


message 3: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Jim I believe you to be a man of fine character, Donald Hamilton could be a wonderful find indeed.


David Manuel | 121 comments I read many of the Matt Helm books as a kid. They provide much of the inspiration for Killer Protocols. Hamilton also wrote two western novels that were made into movies, The Big Country with Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston, Burl Ives, and Chuck Connors, and The Violent Men. Noir? Probably not. Gritty? Definitely. And the Dean Martin movies were a travesty!


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 260 comments I read somewhere that the makers of the Matt Helm movies figured that the 'American James Bond' (Helm) couldn't compete with the real James Bond movies head to head. They didn't have the budget, so they decided to make them comedies. I wish they hadn't made them at all! I've never seen the TV show, though. Has anyone else?

Hamilton's westerns are excellent. Gritty & very realistic in many ways. Hamilton knew guns & horses. You can get some of them here:
http://www.mmtz.us/dh/

More info on him here:
http://www.matthelmbooks.com/
This includes a link to Titan announcing that they'll republish the Matt Helm books next year. You can bet I'll be buying them. My copies are original paperbacks, some 50 years old. I think they're also going to publish the very last Matt Helm novel that Hamilton wrote before he died. It never got published because they said it had been too long since his previous book & they didn't want to republish the series to drum up support for it. I can't wait.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 260 comments I found this email from Gordon Hamilton, Donald Hamilton's son. Thought it would be of interest, especially near the end where he talks about who should play Matt Helm in a movie.

Hello DHWP,

I am Don's son and wish to start by telling you how pleased and flattered Don is by this web site. Presently, he has no modem, so I am writing in his stead. I am currently in the U.S. to sell the family house, located in the historic district of Santa Fe, NM (Real Estate agent, Shell MacKenzie at email: french@rt66.com, web page: http://www.french-french.com). Don is living in Spain. I am writing to give you additional information, correct some errors and add a few comments (treading on no toes, I hope!)
First on his bio: born as Greve Knut Donald Bengtsson Hamilton. Greve is the title of "Count", as this branch of the Hamiltons is a Swedish aristocratic family. Knut is the grandfathers name, then the "given" name, by which one is known, then the fathers name with -sson tacked on, and finally the family name. This was (and still is) the naming formula for the 1st born son.
In the U.S., he grew up in Baltimore, MD, and Chicago, IL, with summer trips out West. The B.S. from Chicago University was in Chemistry, at which job he worked in the private sector until WW11, when he entered the Navy, spending the war at the Annapolis Naval Base cooking up weird potions for the government.
Don has four children, all living, 2 boys and 2 girls. He has 6 grandchildren (5 of whom are mine).
Don and I now buy small ships (one at a time), have them renovated and then sell them. We spent a year in Denmark, one year in Poland, getting the present ship, named "Maagen", worked on. She is now ready for sale, laying in Svendborg, Denmark. for more info on "Maagen" web site:
http://www.djurgardsvarvet.a.se/


We moved to Spain to get some sun after two years on the Baltic Sea, and now live in Tarifa, the southern most tip of continental Europe. Lots of sun.
I had a friend print out the DHWP, and enjoyed it all, particularly the "who should play Matt Helm" section. My votes are as follows: in the old days, perhaps Max Von Sydow with a hard body (?) joking, just joking...... Don always said (and at one point asked for ) Richard Boone. I agree with the earlier Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. For nowadays, though, I reject the Kilmers, Russels et al, as too soft and too hip. Ditto Gibson. Too nice. Physically, the perfect specimen is Dolf Lundgren, if one could get a good director to "de-woodenize" him.
Well, Don has finished what will almost undoubtedly be his last Matt Helm, as he is now 84 years old and wants to retire from that level of concentration. And it is with great embarrassment that I tell you that, for the life of me, I cannot at this moment remember the damned name of the new book. Oh well. With luck, it should hit the stands within the next 12 months.
Don loves fan mail, including all of ya'll's weird and wonderful opinions and he replies to all who write to him. Keep it coming!

Sincerely,
Gordon Hamilton



Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Im assuiming you know about Ken Bruen and Ireland since you didnt ask about that country. Didnt you read Starr books? Isnt he also irish?

The most famous older noir author from Europe is Georges Simenon. Sure he is famous for cozy detective series but he wrote some acclaimed roman noirs.


message 8: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 12, 2012 10:28AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Jim wrote: "Donald Hamilton was born of immigrant Swedish parents & lived there at the end of his life, I believe. His Matt Helm series has
The Wrecking Crew set in Sweden
The Devastators set in England/S..."


Hjalmar Soderberg is general fiction,mainstream lit or whatever you want to call it. He is the Swedish version of Albert Camus. Not noir author but he wrote some bleak stories about losers that would be called by lame American mags today for literary noir.

I have read Soderberg, he isnt SF writer or any genre writer. He is one of the giants of Swedish lit we all know who he is.


Tom Vater (goodreadscomtom_vater) | 12 comments Shame you are not visiting Italy, as I can highly recommend Massimo Carlotto. Amazing Noir writer who did many years in jail and on the run for a murder he did not commit (he was framed by the Italian police) and who reflects on his years as an alleged killer in his novels. Very brutal and dark but not immoral as some reviewers claim. Quite the opposite. The most compelling one I have read is Death' Dark Abyss. Here's my review of it...

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

In France, check out Jean-Claude Izzo and his Marseilles trilogy, gritty inner city Noir.

In the UK, check out Charlie Williams' Dead Folk, which is both dark and hilarious in turns and a long way away from American pulp. Very English!

Also great are all seven Bernie Gunther novels by Philip Kerr, set in Nazi Germany/occupied Europe and Cuba between the 1930s and 1950s. Chandler meets Casablanca on the set of Inglorious Basterds.


message 10: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 12, 2012 11:11AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Jim wrote: "Donald Hamilton was born of immigrant Swedish parents & lived there at the end of his life, I believe. His Matt Helm series has
The Wrecking Crew set in Sweden
The Devastators set in England/S..."


Donald Hamilton i must read now, he was born in Uppsala ,Sweden which is my hometown. I thought he was one of those Americans with Swedish roots from 100 years ago.


message 11: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Mohammed I am a huge Simenon fan already, I guess in comparison to Jim Thompson his Maigret might be seen as cozy but you're right his non-Maigret work is often very dark. I'm not going to Ireland so I'm not looking however I am interested in Ken Bruen. Do you have any recs for starting with Hjalmar Soderberg?

Tom despite my decision not to visit the tourist paradise that is Italy your recommendation for Carlotto has been noted, right up my street from the sounds of it.

I'll definitely look out for Izzo too.

As for Bernie Gunther, I have them all and they are part of the reason why Berlin and Vienna was chosen as destinations - even the smallest details he included in the descriptions of life at that time was fascinating, however he is English and I'd love to get an idea of 'the natives' perspective on things.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 260 comments Thanks for the correction on Soderberg. I must have gotten him mixed up with someone else.

I'm an American with Uppsala, Sweden roots from 100 years ago. I know when my great grandparents & grandfather got off the boat on Liberty Island, but that's as far back as my aunt could trace it. I'm an American mutt, so it really doesn't matter.


Juuso (J-RRH-Lehtonen) | 10 comments Couple noir writers not mentioned yet: British Gerald Kersh and french Boris Vian.

I Haven't (yet) read either of them, but Kersh's Night and the City is waiting there, on the bookshelf, luring me. Vian's I Spit on Your Graves is considered as one of the genre classics.


message 14: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Night and the city was a good movie by jules dassin and like to read the book.
Isnt i spit on your grave a slasher movie?


message 15: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 14, 2012 03:44AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Tfitoby wrote: "Mohammed I am a huge Simenon fan already, I guess in comparison to Jim Thompson his Maigret might be seen as cozy but you're right his non-Maigret work is often very dark. I'm not going to Ireland ..."

Aha i missed the part about your trip, what interesting trip. Soderberg isnt crime author but i know a Swedish dou of crime writers who wrote a hardcore crime series.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...

They are hailed and have won The CWA International Dagger.

By they way when you are in Stockholm visit The Old City part that lies downtown. It is the best place for tourist and often only reason i go to Stockholm. It has awesome bookstore like Science Fiction Bookstore that has alot other things, English Bookshop that is the Stockholm version of the one i loyally support. The streets are narrow and the houses look like they did in 1700s.


message 16: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Roslund & hellstrom are blowing everyone away i believe. Not just another scandinavian crime series i hear.

Id still be interested in reading a soderberg if you have a specific book to revommend btw.

And sadly our time in sweden is limited to malmo due to the proximity to
Copenhagen and that marvellous oresund bridge.


message 17: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 14, 2012 04:03AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Tfitoby wrote: "Roslund & hellstrom are blowing everyone away i believe. Not just another scandinavian crime series i hear.

Id still be interested in reading a soderberg if you have a specific book to revommend ..."


Hjalmar Soderberg is bleak,realism author and his most famous novel is Doktor Glas. I have read Martin Brick's Youth that was very powerful.

Shame you miss the capital its the only city that looks like a big classy European city here in Sweden.


message 18: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
In an ideal world we'll be doing this again for different cities in a couple more years. I may need to cut back on the amount of books I buy however if I'm going to afford it.

Malmo does look like a small town in a lot of ways but it does have that amazing Twisted Torso building in addition to the incredible bridge.


Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Tfitoby wrote: "In an ideal world we'll be doing this again for different cities in a couple more years. I may need to cut back on the amount of books I buy however if I'm going to afford it.

Malmo does look like..."


Small towns compared to Australia or big countries like US of course. That thing we have here is alot of centuries old buildings,alot of castles in the middle of the towns. I prefer that to the more modern,urban new buildings.


Joseph | 16 comments Great discussion, so I'll just reply with some thoughts in a bulleted list rather than replying to individual posts:
-I have wanted to visit Sweden ever since reading about Viking culture in Michael Crichton's "The 13th Warrior." Dating a Swedish au pair during the summer after my freshman year in college also turned me on to the country (so to speak.)
-Jim referred me to Donald Hamilton earlier in the year, and I'm now on the third book in the series, The Removers.
-Question for Mohammed: Is Steig Larsson kind of like your Dan Brown over there in Sweden? Or does he have some street cred? I wouldn't put his books at the top of my favorites list, but I enjoyed them. In particular, I thought it was fun to slow down my reading to sound out words like Gvarngatagatan.


Kurt Reichenbaugh | 95 comments Juuso wrote: "Couple noir writers not mentioned yet: British Gerald Kersh and french Boris Vian.

I Haven't (yet) read either of them, but Kersh's Night and the City is waiting there, on the bookshelf, luring m..."


Boris Vian is a new one to me, thanks for the mention.


Kurt Reichenbaugh | 95 comments I did get to read Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo several years ago. I understand it's part of a trilogy and I believe the other two are available in English translations. Has anyone else read them?

Also enjoyed Almost Blue  by Carlo Lucarelli but haven't found anything else in the U.S. by him.


message 23: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 15, 2012 09:42AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Joe wrote: "Great discussion, so I'll just reply with some thoughts in a bulleted list rather than replying to individual posts:
-I have wanted to visit Sweden ever since reading about Viking culture in Michae..."


Steig Larsson was an acclaimed reporter and became bestseller like Patterson,Dan Brown as a writer. He is the opposite of acclaimed swedish crime,thriller author. Far from Mankell and co. I havent read him but his reputation is exactly like Dan Brown. People only study him because he sells. I havent read him myself and only the female heroine stands out to me to maybe try him.

But his series is too much like kind of thriller i dislike Lee Child uber macho hero and that kind of series i have learned to stay away from. Make Reacher type to a female version.....


Adam | 99 comments Tfitoby wrote: "Night and the city was a good movie by jules dassin and like to read the book.
Isnt i spit on your grave a slasher movie?"

I Spit on Your Grave is an excruciatingly unpleasant rape-revenge movie. The book by Vian is I Spit on Your Graves, plural.


message 25: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Adam - nice catch. I won't ignore Vian then.

Kurt - Lucarelli is very familiar to me but I don't know why. I'll keep an eye out for him when I'm next shopping as I'm sure I must have seen his books about.

Mohammed - This is why I want to avoid new Scandinavian crime writers, I haven't read any but I percieve them to be darker versions of Lee Child. Having seen the Swedish movie versions I really don't care about the books.

Joe - Turned on to Sweden by an au pair? Who hasn't been?! I've been thinking about a Michael Chrichton Cinematic Legacy blog post yet I haven't seen 13th Warrior or ever seen the book on a shelf. Is it one that's worth while?


Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Tfitoby wrote: "Adam - nice catch. I won't ignore Vian then.

Kurt - Lucarelli is very familiar to me but I don't know why. I'll keep an eye out for him when I'm next shopping as I'm sure I must have seen his book..."


You just have to read reviews of Swedish crime that is new english to see what kind there are as crime book. There are many good ones that look new but are old really good authors that shouldnt be treated like Lee Child type just because Larsson is the famous,trendy name in a field that is huge in Scandinavia.

It would be like me dismissing Lawrence Block,Sallis,Dennis Lehane,Piccirilli and every other quality american crime author just because Patterson,Lee Child sells a ton and are the generic ones in big field in US.


message 27: by Alberto (last edited Jul 16, 2012 03:31AM) (new)

Alberto  | 286 comments Tfitoby wrote: "I'm taking a trip to several cities in Europe...

So you're not coming to Spain!

About spanish crime and pulp fiction, as I wrote some other place in this group there's very few interesting stuff translated to english, being Vazquez Montalban's Pepe Carvalho probably the only option. I've read him few but I don't like his style, too literary and not hardboiled enough.
Recently I've discovered Paco Ignacio Taibo II who is spanish and is translated to english although he sets most of his novels in Mexico.


message 28: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new)

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Alberto im an arsenal fan, i cannot remove my dislike of madrid and barcelona so easily! Valencia was a backup option.

Taibo looks great, i have my eyes open for him already.


message 29: by Alberto (last edited Jul 16, 2012 04:26AM) (new)

Alberto  | 286 comments Tfitoby wrote: "Alberto im an arsenal fan, i cannot remove my dislike of madrid and barcelona so easily! "

Haha. Well, I'll take that as a compliment to our most popular teams.


Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Alberto wrote: "Tfitoby wrote: "I'm taking a trip to several cities in Europe...

So you're not coming to Spain!

About spanish crime and pulp fiction, as I wrote some other place in this group there's very few in..."


Whats Taibo like ? Hardboiled detective ? Noir? Regular crime that isnt very hardboiled?


message 31: by Alberto (last edited Jul 16, 2012 05:07AM) (new)

Alberto  | 286 comments I haven't read him yet. It seems hardboiled. Paco Ignacio Taibo has been championing Noir and Hardboiled literature in Spain for more than two decades. I've only found out recently he is also a writer. He is the founder and responsible for the Semana Negra (Noir Week) in Gijón, Asturias, in the north coast of Spain where, by the way I use to spend my summer holidays. Actually I'll travel there next week. Semana Negra is the pioneer and more important crime fiction convention in Spain.


Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Ah my bad i thought you had read a book of his when you said discovered. He gets extra cred for championing Noir in Spain for so long instantly with me.


message 33: by Alberto (last edited Jul 16, 2012 06:24AM) (new)

Alberto  | 286 comments Mohammed wrote: "Ah my bad i thought you had read a book of his when you said discovered. "

I'll read him soon and will let you know how good he is. The good thing is his books are translated to english.


message 34: by Alberto (last edited Jul 17, 2012 12:01AM) (new)

Alberto  | 286 comments I've remembered about a french writing team, Boileau-Narcejac, that's Pierre Boileau and Tomas Narcejac. They wrote at least a dozen of noir novels in the fifties. I've read some 6 or 7 titles by them, and I must say they're dated and the action in their books is very slow, even boring, but they've got some remarkable highlights. They're the authors of Celle qui n'était plus (The WoMan Who was No More) in which the interesting Clouzot's french film Les Diaboliques was based on, with a more recent US film adaptation too. They wrote also the novel in which the Hitchcock's film Vertigo is based. Those two novels are interesting, although slow and depressing. Their masterwork is for me Les louves, (The Prisoner in english), five stars. I think they're difficult to find in english, but not impossible. Don't try any other title but those three, preferiblely Les Louves.


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