You can take the novelist out of TV, but can you take TV out of the novelist? (A note on Giles Blunt)
"Many of them are not novelists. Now there are some excellent screenwriters who are also good authors, but making the transition from one medium to (the) other does not usually work.None of this applies to Giles Blunt. For one thing, The Delicate Storm does an excellent job on mood and setting, which must be at least part of what Mary Evans means by context.
"The agent, Mary Evans says, `Oftentimes, you shudder when a screenwriter has written a manuscript. Because they tend to be strong with dialogue but crappy with context … Screenwriters are attracted to novel writing because they can let their freak flag fly and just write what they want, but the truly talented novelist-slash-screenwriter is very rare.'"
Still, two features of the novel remind me of television, and I suspect that at least one reflects Blunt's TV experience. Broadly speaking, the book is full of incident and potential subplots. More specifically, at least three dialogue passages are just that: all, or almost all, dialogue, with little or no reaction, as if they were lines from a script.
In one, protagonist John Cardinal, a local police officer, snaps at a young-looking Canadian intelligence officer named Squier who has become involved in a murder case. Here's part of the scene:
"You're with CSIS?"Look what happens here. Or rather, look what doesn't happen. Cardinal has insulted Squier, and Blunt indicates no reaction on Squier's part whatsoever, not even to say "Squier showed no reaction."
"Canadian Security Intelligence Service," Musgrave said.
"I know who they are, thanks."
"That's right. I've been with them five years."
"They must have hired you when you were nine." Cardinal sat down in a sky-blue chair that creaked like a new show. He turned to Musgrave. "What's the deal here?"
"I'll let him tell you."
"Squier opened his briefcase and set a silvery laptop on the desk ..."
Elsewhere, Cardinal's colleague clashes so bitterly with a coroner that the two seem on the verge of at least a shouting match. A sarcastic remark from the coroner proceeds not to reaction on either his of the officer's part, but rather to some small bit of action (a police photographer taking picture of a shoe) before returning to coroner and officer at work, as if they had never argued.
The pattern repeats itself at least once more in the novel, which is neither good in itself nor bad. But it does contribute to the novel's distinctive texture, a texture I'd guess owes something to the author's other writing career.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Canadian crime fiction