Latin American Crime Fiction Reading List

Here’s my list of potential reads from South and Central America for the 2013 Global Reading Challenge. I’ve compiled these from several websites, particularly Teaching College- Level Spanish and several library lists of international fiction.

I’ve included links to my reviews below as well.


  1. Claudia Piñeiro: Thursday Night Widows
  2. Guillermo Martínez: The Oxford Murders, The Book of Murder
  3. Ricardo Piglia: Money to Burn (Plata Quemada)- very dark, based on a true story about a bank heist.
  4. Juan José Saer: The Witness; The Investigation
  5. Mempo Giardinelli: Tenth Circle, Sultry Moon
  6. Juan Martini: El cerco, Puerto Apache– not translated
  7. José Pablo Feinmann: Últimos días de la víctima- not translated
  8. Juan Sasturain: not translated
  9. Ernesto Mallo: Needle in a Haystack, Sweet Money
  10. Guillermo Orsi: No One Loves a Policeman, Holy City
  11. Carlos Gamerro: El secreto y las voces
  12. Matías Néspolo: Seven Ways to Kill a Cat
  13. Eduardo Sacheri: The Secret in Their Eyes
  14. Tomás Eloy Martínez: Purgatory
  15. Elsa Osorio: My Name Is Light


  1. Paco Ignacio Taibo II:  An Easy Thing; No Happy Ending; Shadow of Shadow– historical novel, takes place in Mexico City after the Mexican Revolution
  2. Rolo Diez: Luna de Escarlata, Papel picado
  3. Juan Hernández Luna:  Las mentiras de la luz; Quiza otros labios; Tabaco para el puma
  4. Martin Solares


  1. Leonardo Padura- Havana Blue– I wasn’t a fan of the gender problems in this first outing in the Havana Quartet (Las cuatro estaciones).
  2. Mayra Montero: Dancing to Almendra
  3. José Latour: Hidden in Havana


  1. Santiago Gamboa: Necropolis


  1. Rubem Fonseca
  2. Patricia Melo
  3. Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza- The Silence of the Rain (first book in Inspector Espinosa series)
  4. Leighton Gage


  1. Ramón Díaz Eterovic
  2. Roberto Ampuero: The Neruda Case (Cayetano Brulé series)


  1. Mark Brazaitas: Steal My Heart


  1. Juan de Recacoechea: American Visa


  1. Alonso Cueto: Blue Hour
  2. Santiago Roncagliolo: Red April

15 thoughts on “Latin American Crime Fiction Reading List

  1. Rebecca – You have quite an impressive list here! It’s reminding me that I have shamefully neglected Latin/South American crime fiction. But I can recommend a few of your choices. Mallo, Gage, Garcia-Roza, Taibo II and Melo. I’m very much looking forward to reading what you think of what you read.

    • Margot- It’s definitely an aspirational list: I don’t expect to read all of these authors in the next year, but it’s a good jumping-off point. Thanks for the recommendations. I think I’ll start with Mallo.

  2. This is a wonderful list, Rebecca – thanks for compiling it. I can thoroughly recommend the Ernesto Mallo’s Needle in a Haystack: a very rich read that remains one of my all-time favourites.

  3. Ooh, I’m definitely going to steal a few of these for my list. I like the Taibo books and thought Claudia Piniero was very funny, Leighton Gage is wonderful but a little dark and gritty for my taste, and so my favorite of the ones I know on your list is Guillermo Martinez, especially The Book of Murder.

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for the recommendation, Karen! So far I’ve only tried Piglia’s Money to Burn, which was very dark, and I will try Taibo and Mallo soon. I’m glad the list is helpful.

  4. Fantastic list!!! I know we’re both in the Global Reading Challenge and finding South and Central America authors has been a challenge, closely followed by African authors. Thanks for taking the the time to do this.

    • You’re welcome, Deb! The list is very heavy on Argentinian authors, but I’m hoping to find more authors from other South American countries. As for African crime novels, I haven’t looked beyond South Africa yet. What books are you considering?

  5. Great list thanks! I just stumbled on this. For Africans try Michael Stanley, Malla Nunn, Kwei Quartey, Adimchinma Ibe … if you are looking into Asian books at all try Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series and the Vincent Calvino series by Christopher G Moore

    • Thanks for the suggestions: I will keep them in mind for this year’s Global Reading Challenge. I just found the African Crime Fiction Project at the Indiana University Bloomington a short while ago: I’m reading my first book from Angola.

  6. A little contibution:

    El Salvador
    Escudos, Jacinta. Asesino melancólico. Guatemala: Alfaguara, 2014
    Horacio Castellanos Moya, Baile con serpientes. San Salvador: Dirección de publicaciones e impresos, 1996.
    —. El arma en el hombre. España: Tusquets editores, 2001.
    —La diabla en el espejo. Ourense: Ediciones linteo, 2000.
    Menjívar Ochoa, Rafael. Los años marchitos. San Salvador: Istmo Editores, 1991.
    —. Los héroes tienen sueño. San Salvador: Dirección de publicaciones e impresos, 2008.
    —. De vez en cuando la muerte. San Salvador: Dirección de publicaciones e impresos, 2002.
    —. Cualquier forma de morir. Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2006.

    Liano, Dante. El hombre de Monstserrat. Barcelona: Roca editorial, 2005.
    —. El misterio de San Andrés. México: Editorial Praxis, 2006.
    Rey Rosa, Rodrigo. Caballerizas. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 2006.
    — Que me maten si…. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1996.
    — Los sordos. México: Alfaguara, 2012.
    — Las piedras encantadas. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 2001.
    —. El material humano. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2009.

    Galich, Franz. Managua Salsa City; devórame otra vez. Managua: Anamá Ed., 2001.
    — Y te diré quien eres (mariposa traicionera). Managua: Anamá Ed., 2006.
    Ramírez, Sergio. Castigo divino. Madrid: Mondadori, 1988.
    —. El cielo llora por mí . México: Alfaguara, 2008.

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