The Germans seem to love Cleave's darkly twisted tales - THE CLEANER spent several months at #2 overall on Amazon Germany in 2007, only being pipped by the then-latest Harry Potter novel. It was the #1 overall bestselling crime/thriller book for Amazon in Germany for 2007, and received hundreds of glowing reviews. Around half a million copies of Cleave's books have sold in Germany, and they have been translated into several European languages.
Now DIE TOTEN SCHWEIGEN NICHT, the German translation of CEMETERY LAKE, also sits at #2, once again stuck behind a publishing phenomenon (this time Dan Brown's THE LOST SYMBOL). The Germans are clearly crime/thriller fans, as along with Cleave and Brown, all three of Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium Trilogy' are also high up on the overall bestseller list.
With all ten German reviews glowing thusfar, and with the reputation Cleave has built in Germany, it will be interesting to see whether CEMETERY LAKE/DIE TOTEN SCHWEIGEN NICHT will have similar ongoing success to THE CLEANER (aka DER SIEBTE TOD), in the coming weeks and months there. After being at #2 for months, the CLEANER has stayed in the Top 100 for 720 days in counting. As Cleave said earlier today: "Once again I'm selling more in one day [in Germany] than I've sold in total in New Zealand".
And like the Germans discovered Linwood Barclay (NO TIME FOR GOODBYE) and many of the Swedish crime writers before UK and US readers eventually 'caught on', perhaps this could be the start of Cleave being read, recognised, and embraced on a far larger scale (especially with Random House UK (Arrow) looking to release more of Cleave's books in the United Kingdom). His fourth novel, BLOOD MEN, is being released in New Zealand and Australia in February, and having read an advance copy, I have no problem saying that in my opinion it is his best book yet - so things could continue to get bigger and better for Cleave.
Sixty years ago, a New Zealander (Dame Ngaio Marsh) was one of the biggest names in international crime fiction, sitting comfortably alongside the greats of that era (Christie, Sayers, Allingham). If the stories are good enough, maybe another New Zealander could someday soon push to the recognised forefront of international crime writing. There are writers from other 'small' countries that are viewed in such a way.
Perhaps Paul Cleave, with his success in Europe and slowly growing recognition in the English-speaking world, could be that modern-day trailblazer. More importantly, perhaps he could be our answer to Ian Rankin (Scotland) or Henning Mankell (Sweden) - a writer that makes readers worldwide eventually realise that there may be several other good and great crime and thriller writers from this small country, hitherto largely overlooked...
Thoughts? Comments? Do you readers in the UK and the USA like authors from other countries, as much as those from your own? Could you see someone like Cleave, or other modern-day Kiwi literary descendants of Dame Ngaio Marsh, becoming a 'big star' on the international crime and thriller writing scene?