Disjointed (me, not Colin Cotterill’s book)
First, I may have to retract some of the spleen I vented this week at self-reference in crime fiction. The cause is an exchange from Colin Cotterill’s Anarchy and Old Dogs that includes the following:
“`Very well. In that case, I suspect what we have here is a message written in invisible ink.’
“Phosy raised one eyebrow. `And how would an old bush surgeon know a thing like that?’
“`Inspector Phosy, allow me to reintroduce you to Inspector Maigret of the Palais de Justice. I became very involved in a number of his cases as they were outlined in the pages of l’Oeuvre while I was in France. Unlike ourselves, Inspector Maigret has the very good sense to be fictional, and thus can dispense with such human annoyances as inefficiency and budget restraints… ’
“`I’m impressed. And all this time I thought there was nothing positive to be gained from reading mysteries.’
“`You’d be surprised.’”
Further, I suspect that many readers are complicit in the sentiment that Cotterill’s Dr. Siri expresses. We indulge his gentle acknowledgment that Maigret is not quite real because it accounts for our love of Maigret. (And that in itself is nice work on Cotterill’s part. Attempts to explain author Georges Simenon’s fantastic popularity are generally far weightier than Cotterill’s sensible observation.)
Third, the exchange is nicely paced, a gentle comedy sketch in miniature, a little story, and not a string of annoyingly self-referential quips.
Fourth, some of the lines are funny – gently so, of course.
I hinted strongly at incoherence, so here's a non-crime-fiction note: In a possible first in its years-long history, the comic strip Sally Forth was mildly amusing yesterday.
End of note.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Asia crime fiction