Founded in 2003 in London, Bitter Lemon Press publishes thrillers and crime fiction by writers from all over the world, Japan to South America, Eastern Europe to New Zealand.
Many of the translated books have won awards in their homelands and these are the first translated editions in English.
Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet and The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin were both shortlisted for the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger Award 2020. The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda has also had some amazing reviews this year.
They are publishing the new Guido Guerrieri novel by Italian bestselling novelist Gianrico Carofiglio called ‘The Measure of Time’ in March which is very exciting. And have the first book set in Uruguay called ‘Crocodile Tears’ by Mercedes Rosende due out in January. Plus, ‘The Transparency of Time’ by Leonardo Padura, Cuba’s greatest living novelist, in June which is bound to get lots of media attention.
The latest in the highly successful Guido Guerrieri series, shortlisted for the 2020 STREGA prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award. It is a tense courtroom drama set in Southern Italy, but also a tale about passion and the passage of time. Guerrieri had fallen in love decades earlier with Lorenza, a beautiful older woman who was in his eyes sophisticated and intellectual. She made wonderful love and opened his mind to high literature, but ultimately treated him as a plaything and discarded him. One spring afternoon Lorenza shows up in Guerrieri’s office. Her son Jacopo, a small-time delinquent, stands convicted of the first-degree murder of a local drug dealer. Her trial lawyer has died, so for the appeal, she turns to Guerrieri. He is not convinced of the innocence of Lorenza’s son, nor does he have fond memories of how their relationship ended two decades earlier. Nevertheless, he accepts the case; perhaps to pay a melancholy homage to the ghosts of his youth.
On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.
The story is set in Uruguay, it starts in a Montevideo prison where Diego waits for his lawyer, the slick Dr Antinucci, always raybanned, chain-smoking, never frisked by the prison guards. Diego, betrayed by his partner in crime, was arrested for kidnapping a businessman. But charges will not be pressed. The businessman and his wife have described Diego as duped by his partner, certainly no master criminal, so he will be let out. But Antonucci has plans for him, a favour must be returned for his surprising freedom, he must join forces with the psychopath the Hobo and hold up an armoured truck in Montevideo. The mad and hilarious caper includes the robbery of course which degenerates into appalling violence, a few murders, and the general bungling of affairs by all the men involved. It is the belittled women, including Police Inspector Lima, who end up the true heroines of the story. This seemingly classic lowlife crime story has a powerful message: never, ever underestimate the women. All told with excoriating wit and humour from the Rio de la Plata.
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Thanks to the team for sending me all the lovely book covers and letting me know what’s coming up.