Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why international crime fiction is special

I posted a while back about an issue of Literature Matters devoted to crime. Here, I'll offer some excerpts from one of the articles, by Christopher MacLehose. The excerpts speak both to the high quality of much international crime fiction and to the reasons we read it. Perhaps they'll inspire you on your next trip to a bookstore:

Publishers will tell you that some of their best literary authors have, within the last decade, turned to crime.
If European crime fiction is attractive to British and American readers now in part it must be the attraction of the unfamiliar location, the unfamiliar politics. Petros Markaris' stories of municipal corruption in a brilliantly-rendered Athens are infinitely more instructive and entertaining than the wearisome regurgitations of many-times digested plots of political and union warfare in North America.
You are sometimes tempted to suggest to an author that a degree more attention to forensic study and results would be appealing to a British readership well versed in these matters. Karin Fossum told me once that she had written a thousand or more pages of forensic ‘stuff’ but had thrown them away because ultimately they were not what interested her about the case. She has proved the wisdom of writing her own books in her own way over and over. It is what gives her a huge following throughout Europe.
For the habitual reader of crime fiction this sort of variation of technique in an investigation, as in the context, is a pleasure, one that grows with familiarity.



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