One more word about Two Murders ...
The double life of the title refers to the narrator's current life as a professor at a Canadian university and his past as writer sucked into a labyrinth of betrayal and squalor in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia.
"North America leads, by a wide margin, in the worldwide statistics of murder," Škvorecký writes in a short introduction, "but North Americans have never experienced total crime. In Europe and Asia, millions of people fell victim to it, many millions in large countries, but it is not only the body that is murdered by this mega-assassin, it is the soul: the character of the community called a nation. However, one can hardly write a murder mystery about the assassination of souls. That's why the Edenvale [College] story has all the paraphernalia of the guilty vicarage, but the Prague sequence of events lacks them entirely. It characters, as the narrator says, are not in a detective story written for the entertainment of the reader, but in a very serious novel."Lest a reader be tempted to think that a put-down of the detective story, consider that Škvorecký devoted an entire book of fiction, Sins for Father Knox, to affectionate engagement with detective stories, absurdity and all.
So, while perhaps few crime writers engage themselves with matters as serious as Škvorecký's, the man is willing to have fun, too, and I get the feeling that he regards this as a task of high importance.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009