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Mystery & Suspense

Mystery & Suspense

Six NYRB Classics

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This collection includes three European and three American classics of noir with no shortage of intrigue. Leonardo Sciascia’s Day of the Owl, which a Daily Telegraph reviewer calls “the most intelligent detective story I have ever read,” follows an Italian detective facing down the Mafia. Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Fatale is about a femme fatale with a body count who flits from town to town conniving the rich out of their money—and their lives. Sand, by the German writer Wolfgang Hernndorf, is a darkly funny crime thriller set in North Africa that’s been compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon and the Coen brothers. Amidst a spate of killings in the aftermath of the Munich Olympics massacre, a man awakens in the desert with no memory of why he’s being pursued.

On the American side are three midcentury masterpieces of suspense. Often called the best of the Gold Medal paperbacks of the 1950s, Elliott Chaze’s Black Wings Has My Angel is a heist novel that doubles as a cat-and-mouse romance between two con artists—and served as inspiration for Manchette’s Fatale. Bill Pronzini calls Chaze “witty,” “insightful,” and “a first-class storyteller.” And from Dorothy B. Hughes, who ranks alongside Patricia Highsmith and Raymond Chandler, come two captivating thrillers with a powerful social conscience that still resonates today. An early feminist classic of suspense, In a Lonely Place follows a former fighter pilot turned woman-targeting serial killer in postwar Los Angeles. With an afterword by Walter Mosley, The Expendable Man speaks to the expendability of black life in the American justice system as a black medical student finds himself framed for murder.

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