Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri
(has been dramatised to TV, too
). Suave cautious gourmet cowardly melodramatic cynical but honest with a heart of Gold Sicilian Inspector and his crew of colourful (looney) colleagues.
Dr. Siri Mysteries
by Colin Cotterill
. Novels about the only coroner in late 1970s Communist Laos. Described by others as "charming", but it's beyond that. Mystical, wry, colourful, convoluted, political, poetic, charming, poignant, comical. Funny, engaging, bittersweet and yet rewarding reads.
series, by Barbara Nadel: set in Instanbul and Turkey, suffused with Turkish culture, elegance and sordidness.
Inspector Chen in modern Shanghai
by Qiu Xiaolong: patiently navigating the perilous and murky lines when confronting and tolerating old and new Chinese culture, communist ideals and corruption, gangster activities & honour, Chinese and foreign sensitivities.
Number one ladies detective agency
by Alexander McCall Smith (also on TV
): Dusty and languid feel-good stories of Fat African women out to set the world right.
* I know someone else's version of "extraordinary" will vary; I wanted to list items that were set outside of the AngloSaxon world (sorry to Ian Rankin, but that means Scotland, too), and that hopefully weren't as formulaic & predictable as a lot of the crime literature is (hence why Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan series didn't make it).
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