I brought a pair of trade paperbacks along with me to Korea to occupy my time while flying and to fill any potential downtime while on the ground, books slated for review in the February BookPage Whodunit column (available at your local bookstore or online sometime in mid-January): Winterland by Irish author Alan Glynn, and Devils in Exile by Chuck Hogan. Both writers were new to me, and both books were page turners of the first order, the result being that I consumed all of my reading material with more than half the trip left to go. What to do?
My first foray in search of books was the Suwon Public Library, a huge ultramodern edifice that dwarfs the library in suburban Saitama, where I live in Japan. Sad to say, the selection of English-language books was nowhere near as comprehensive: three small shelves featuring such dubious choices as Seoul Food, a Look at Contemporary Restaurants in the Capital (from 1988), a Korean-English dictionary of biblical terms (I’ll bet you are dying to know the translation for “Garden of Eden” into Korean; well, here you go: 의 에덴 동산), several books on surefire investment opportunities in Asia (all of similar vintage to the restaurant book), and one well-thumbed copy of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, which I had already read. Not another potboiler in sight.
A trip to the humongous FoodPlus/Tesco department store proved a bit more fruitful, thankfully. Almost immediately I stumbled upon a table of hard cover novels, books that in the US would be described as “remaindered”. The first row yielded a copy of Jeff Shelby’s surf noir classic, Wicked Break, which I had also read (and reviewed, for that matter), but it boded well for the hunt. I applied myself to the task at hand, finally settling on Daniel Judson’s The Darkest Place (St. Martin’s Minotaur; ISBN 9780312352530; 310pp; $23.95), a 2006 tale of a serial killer preying upon teenage boys during the coldest Long Island winter on record. My choice was helped along by back cover blurbs from three longtime favorites: Robert Crais (“…the kind of honest, powerful novel that gives crime fiction the very best parts of its reputation.”); G.M. Ford (“…destined to become a classic piece of American crime fiction.”); and S.J. Rozan (“Daniel Judson writes beautifully about the peculiar satisfactions of self-destruction.”). As expected, the three blurbists did not let me down, and neither did Daniel Judson. I shall be on the lookout for more of his books, without a doubt.