Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Japanese “New Traditionalism,” plus the traditional question for readers

I’ve just read another intriguing story in the Passport to Crime collection, assembled by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine from the magazine’s feature of the same name. The story, “An Urban Legend Puzzle” by Norizuki Rintaro, much-honored in Japan, is billed as an homage to Ellery Queen and an example of a “New Traditionalist” movement in Japanese crime writing “in which puzzle construction is key.”

It’s a beautifully paced story, the father-and-son, police inspector-and-mystery writer team playing off one another, their successive accounts and theories of a murder at a student party building toward the theory that proves correct. That's apparently the way it was done in the Ellery Queen stories, which I may just have to investigate now that I've read one of their descendants. More broadly, the crime tale whose action consists in characters telling a story goes back before Ellery Queen to Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin. This site proposes yet another plausible influence on “An Urban Legend Puzzle”: Seicho Matsumoto.

I found the blend of venerable technique and thoroughly modern characters (cell phones, drugs, stress) bracing, and if that’s what “New Traditionalism” means, I want to read more of it. And here’s your question, readers: What crime stories can you think of, thoroughly modern stories, not deliberate nostalgia pieces, that nonetheless hark back in some way to older crime fiction?
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Competition update: A reader from the Isle of Wight is the first winner of Jo Nesbø's The Redbreast. You can win a copy, too, simply by telling me which Norwegian politician's name became a synonym for traitor thanks to his collaboration in the Nazi occupation of Norway. Read more about The Redbreast — and find a clue to the competition question — here. (Geographical restrictions apply. Winners must have postal addresses in the UK, Europe, the Commonwealth or Canada.)

Send your answers to detectivesbeyondborders("@" symbol)earthlink.net.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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4 Comments:

Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Well I do know that Norwegian politician isn't Charles Boycott or Henry Shrapnel.
But The Redbreast is a very fine novel and well worth winning.

November 15, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Nor, by the way, was it Elbridge Gerry.

I thank you for enlarging the scope of my knowledge. I had not known the origin of shrapnel until now. And you're right about The Redbreast.

November 15, 2007  
Anonymous LauraR said...

Re: good old-fashioned crime novels. In a way "Raven Black" by Ann Cleeves fulfils the brief - small island community setting, traditional story telling, lack of gore.

November 15, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, Laura. I've heard good things about Ann Cleeves. That title, with its Poe overtones (or should I say Poevertones) resonates with crime-fiction tradition, of course. Is Cleeves able to create a convincing contemporary setting with contemporary characters using traditional techniques?

November 15, 2007  

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