The Detectives Beyond Borders top eighteen (or nineteen), part I
I can no more trim my list of 2007’s top crime reading to ten than I can restrict it to novels or to fiction, for that matter. So, here's part one of a list of novels, stories, plays and histories that made my crime-fiction reading interesting in 2007.
Nice Try by Shane Maloney – At least as funny as the other novels in this Australian writer’s Murray Whelan series but, it seems to me, more intricately (and tightly) plotted.How about you, gentle readers? If you can still remember 2007, tell me about your favorite crime reading from that year.
Fast One by Paul Cain – This novel by the most enigmatic of the American pulpsters is fast, witty, hard and, perhaps most impressive for a book published in 1932, not at all dated in its language.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – A group entry of the first four books in Colfer's series about a young criminal genius, plus Half Moon Investigations, about a 12-year-old private eye. The books are funny, smart, and decidedly not just for young-adult readers.
"Bloody Windsor" by Gwendoline Butler and “An Urban Legend Puzzle” by Norizuki Rintaro – These two stories, the first from The Oxford Book of Detective Stories: An International Selection, the second from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine's Passport to Crime collection, make the list because they surprised me with little acts of authorial magic. Butler sets the scene forcefully at the start and thereby avoids the need to clutter the rest of the story with detail of its eighteenth-century setting. Norizuki, part of the "New Traditionalism" movement in Japanese crime writing, has written a story true to the old tradition of the puzzle mystery yet thoroughly modern in setting and feel.
Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas – Funny and written with a deep sympathy for its characters. This and the French author's other three novels published to date in English translation give quirkiness a good name.
Snobbery With Violence: English Crime Stories And Their Audience – Colin Watson’s highly opinionated social history of English crime fiction will make you laugh just as I suspect it made its original audience squirm in 1971. And you may be surprised by what Watson says about George Orwell.
Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland – This debut, winner of Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for best first crime novel, does a number of things well. It’s a glimpse into a fascinating, exotic, though thoroughly contemporary world, it’s a convincing and well-plotted amateur-sleuth tale, and it’s funny, with a sympathy for its characters something like that Fred Vargas has for hers.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008