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The Sirens of Suspense




Anne Trager is the founder and president of Le French Book. This publishing house brings mysteries and thrillers from France to new readers across the English-speaking world – this month, they are releasing The City of Blood, a police procedural in the best-selling Paris Homicide series. Anne comes from a background in translation and publishing and has an irrational love for France, good food, and crime fiction. She has translated several of Le French Book’s titles.


Find Anne on Facebook and Twitter.



When was the last time you read a book and then told a friend about? Now, imagine the frustration if that friend wanted to read it but couldn’t? Multiply by dozens of books and you’ll understand why I started Le French Book. There I was, living in France, doing what I love most: reading mysteries and thrillers and wanting to share them with my friends and family. But I was reading them in French and the friends and family in question only read in English. It dawned on me that I had just the background needed to get those books to these new readers.

I moved to France in 1985. Both my parents were linguists, so languages have always been a part of my person, and it didn’t take me long to begin translating, something I’ve been doing ever since. Along the way, I worked for publishers, among other entities, and ended up doing a lot of work in corporate communications. Translation plus publishing plus communications was a good basis to found a publishing house, to which I added an obsession with mysteries and thrillers, and an excessive love for France. The end result was Le French Book.

In France, there are somewhere between 600 and 800 new French novels published every year. Of those, only a tiny fraction ever get translated, so the choice of works to translate is huge. First of all, we narrow down by genre: only mysteries and thrillers. Secondly, we look for different kinds of mysteries and thrillers. French novels are often characterized as noir or intellectual, when in fact, you find refreshing police procedurals, cozies, international espionage stories, and action-packed thrillers too. We also like series, but are happy to do stand-alones too.

We look for stories that an English-language audience can relate to. There has to be some bridge, because as much as France is familiar as a concept, it is an entirely different culture with different preoccupations and a different worldview. So for readers to fully enjoy the story, you need some sort of conduit, something familiar. This could be Paris, as in our Paris Homicide series, or wine, as in the Winemaker Detective series.

But ultimately, however, the choice is very subjective. If we love it, we translate it, in hopes that you will love it too.


IF YOU COULD ENSURE ONE U.S. PUBLISHED BOOK WAS TRANSLATED INTO FRENCH WHICH WOULD IT BE? Tell us by commenting on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of THE CITY OF BLOOD! (U.S. only please.)



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