Books to read on an island: The campaign for Vanda
Vanda, herself a crime novelist, has asked me to recommend crime books that might be hard for her to find otherwise. She's been a charming correspondent and the winner of a Detectives Beyond Borders contest, so how could I refuse? I'll begin with an offering from my own native country: three Canadian crime novelists whose work I've read and enjoyed recently. Then I'll ask you for some suggestions.
Giles Blunt portrays small-city humor and hopelessness as well as any American or Swede you’d care to name, though with sensitivity to local sounds and sights. Take him to a city, and he does just as well, keeping the action moving fast at all times. Even when his characters sit still, they are never really at rest. As a bonus, his novel The Delicate Storm offers an unusually detailed first-person look at a tumultuous period in recent Canadian history. (Read more about Giles Blunt here and here.)
Howard Engel's Memory Book recounts its protagonist's struggles both to solve a murder and to overcome a neurological condition that has robbed him of his ability to read. Think that's easy? Engel's Benny Cooperman can't read what he has written, and he can't follow street signs, read reports or make much sense of the visual world. Then reflect that Engel himself struggled with the affliction, alexia sine agraphia, while writing the book. The novel comes with an afterword by the neurologist Oliver Sacks. If possible, get the Canadian edition from Penguin for its ingenious cover, which brilliantly captures Cooperman's puzzling, frustrating predicament. (Read more about Howard Engel here.)
John McFetridge is a guy you'll have heard from and read about on this blog in recent days. His satirical edge and sympathetic view of his city and protagonists bring his novels to rich, vivid life. Read Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Dirty Sweet, and see why people will one day talk about McFetridge's Toronto the way they talk about Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles. (Read the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with John McFetridge here.)
Won't you help? What other crime books should Vanda Symon be reading?
© Peter Rozovsky 2008