Tana French's sex-based humor
French’s protagonist, Rob Ryan, muses on his position as an investigator:
“I sometimes thought the brass assumed I was a good detective in the mindless pre-programmed way that some men will assume that a tall, slim, blonde woman is beautiful even if she has a face like a hyperthyroid turkey: because I have all the accessories. I have a perfect BBC accent ... they still assume that anyone with a stiff upper lip is more intelligent, better educated and generally more likely to be right. On top of that, I am tall, with a bony, rangy build that can look lean and elegant if my suit is cut just right …”Ryan has been set to musing by the presence of a young female officer on the murder squad, and he discloses that he “disliked the Neanderthal locker-room overtones, competing cars and competing aftershaves and subtly bigoted jokes justified as `ironic’, which always made me want to go into a pedantic lecture on the subject of irony. On the whole, I preferred women to men.”
A male character created by a female author uses the presence of a woman as an occasion to shake his head at male behavior and the dopiness – and usefulness – of stereotypes male and female. I don’t know what French will do with all this over the course of this long novel, but she sure has fun with it in the opening chapter.
Can you think of any other crime writers who have similar fun with sex (or, OK, gender) roles?
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Irish crime fiction