Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 20, 2010

Sleuths

I’m on a roller coaster, reading one detective after another and unwilling to write reviews.  What is there to review?  They’re all good stories, some really well written, some less so.  They keep me turning the pages and I am happily becoming absorbed in one murder plot after another and their resolutions. 

I’m hooked, unable to extract myself.  Unwilling to give up.  Is this an addiction?  Will it last?  For the time being, I am unwilling to do anything about it.  In her ‘Talking about Detective Fiction’, P.D. James writes:

One of the criticisms of the detective story is that [this] imposed pattern is mere formula writing, that it binds the novelist in a straitjacket which is inimical to the artisitic freedom which is essential to creativity, and that subtlety of characterisation, a setting which comes alive for the reader and even credibility are sacrificed to the dominance of structure and plot.  But what I find fascinating is the extraordinary variety of books and writers which this so-called formula has been able to accommodate, and how many authors have found the constraints and conventions fo the detective story liberating rather than inhibiting of their creative imagination.’

I could not agree more.  As she notes a bit later ‘…detective stories are not the only novels which conform to a recognised convention and structure.’   Take Jane Austen’s novels for example.

And so I have read  Henning Mankells: ‘The White Lioness’ and ‘Faceless Killers’ – two of his earlier books which have now set me up quite nicely for an endless list of subsequent cold and snowbound murders, all to be resolved by the moody police officer Wallander who has made a mess of his life but who stumbles fearlessly from one horrendous killing into another, all in sleepy backwaters in Sweden.  They are excellently written though and so all reality is suspended.

I followed my reading course in detective stories with Camilla Lackberg’s ‘The Ice Princess’, the story of how Erica Falck’s childhood friend Alex  is found murdered in an ice cold bath, her body partly frozen.   This  sets the scene for subsequent books in which Falck and her police detective friend Patrik Hedstrom join forces as sleuths, resolving the mysteries of more murders in Sweden. 

I shall carry on in my pursuit of more chillling murders and finding out how they are resolved.  As I said, I’m on a roll, and until this election fever here in England is over and done with I will bury my head in detective stories of one kind or another.    There are many more authors to discover: I have a Lee Child and a Hakan Nesser on the tbr pile  and have meanwhile discovered that the local library holds a treasure trove of Mankell books.

That does not mean I’m not interested in this election fever here in England, but saturation point has been reached already, and there are still so many weeks to go.  I cannot even vote as I am not an English citizen.    

 So, I’m going to try and find the best sleuth on the shelf until all this is over.


Responses

  1. Enjoy your addiction to detective novels! I look forward to hearing what you have to say about them if and when you choose to write something.

  2. Thanks Kathleen – I’m just starting my next Wallander mystery ‘ Firewall’….

  3. Oooooooo. I have placed a reserve at my library for Henning Mankells. Sounds wonderful and right up my alley. Easier to say now that it is spring outside! You don’t have to review; just throwing out some new names is adequate for me!!

  4. qugrainne – you are wise: Mankell is definitely library food. there are just so many of them! And no, still not in the mood to review them in depth, just galloping through them…

  5. What a wonderful thing to be hooked on though! I’ve just finished reading ‘Firewall’ – it’s excellent! Love Mankell. I also love John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series and Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch series.
    If you come across this Australian crimes series written by Catherine Howell one of these days, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as a change of setting from Sweden (and the rest of the northern hemisphere crime series).
    Here’s a link to her latest, ‘Cold Justice’. Main character is Dectective Ella Maconi. http://www.austcrimefiction.org/node/5452

  6. Sheryl – I am going to hunt for Catherine Howell now, have just picked up the Nesser (also cold climate!) and then it’s definitely time for something warmer. Thanks for the ref.

  7. Sheryl 2: what a great blog: austcrimefiction and what reviews – I’ll add it to my bloglist. Lots to browse! The UK Amazone does not (yet) have Cold Justice but there are one or two other by Catherine Howell. I’ll try the library also.


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