Sunday, April 26, 2009

Detectives Beyond Borders' CrimeFest blogfest: Ruth Dudley Edwards

I'm off to Bristol for CrimeFest 2009 next month. Between now and then, I'll devote some posts to authors and others who'll join me there.

First up is Ruth Dudley Edwards, whose novel Murdering Americans won CrimeFest's Last Laugh Award 2008. That was the eleventh novel in her series about the splendidly named Robert Amiss; The English School of Murder is the third.

I may devote a post to Edwards' satire, but here it's humor's turn, specifically Edwards' talent for maintaining a tone through incidental action and description. This line, in the fourth chapter, without having any immediate bearing on the plot or anything to do with Edwards' targets, gives a fair idea:

"`Suspicious,' observed Amiss, who was losing interest rapidly."
The novel is set in an English-language school, and Dudley is not the only crime writer to find such a school fertile ground for a story of crime and corruption. The other half of the title's wordplay applies, too. Amiss' friend Ellis Pooley is a genial and wide-ranging connoisseur of crime novels.

A special treat for P.G. Wodehouse fans: Amiss' improvised effort to trap a recalcitrant cat in an early chapter is a tribute to "Jeeves and the Impending Doom," my favorite Wodehouse story and one of his best.

More to come, maybe.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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14 Comments:

Blogger Martin Edwards said...

From another Edwards - many congrats on 1000 posts, and I look forward to seeing you again in Bristol....

April 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks. I did a bit of pre-Bristol shopping today, and I'll have a fair bit of pre-Bristol reading to do. To think there was a time when I resented having homework before a holiday.

April 26, 2009  
Anonymous Bjorn said...

I think the Icelandic crime fiction boom is coming. Interesting times we're living in up here. Of course I am actually living in Philadelphia at the moment but you know what I mean.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

So, Peter, you've further complicated my life by yet again adding another author to my stack of must-read books; thus,Ruth Dudley Edwards gets added to the floor-to-ceiling list of authors you've so generously highlighted. And, Bjorn, I'm now digging into Yrsa Sigurdardottir's MY SOUL TO TAKE, which promises to be every bit as solid and provocative as Indridason's novels (which I thoroughly admire); I spent a year-and-a-half in Iceland, so I have a special soft-spot in my heart, mind, and soul for all things Icelandic.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"I think the Icelandic crime fiction boom is coming. Interesting times we're living in up here. Of course I am actually living in Philadelphia at the moment but you know what I mean."

I can guess what you mean. Last year I has a chat with Yrsa Sigurðardóttir just as the interesting times were beginning, and I asked if the thought those interesting times might spark an outburst of crime writing from Iceland.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

May I weigh in on Iceland and crime fiction? Traditional wisdom about crime/detective/mystery fiction is that the genre thrives best in troubled times (witness the American depression era) because people were interested in reading fiction in which order was restored in the aftermath of chaos (and that is one way of describing the formula for the genre). So, if Iceland is going through some desperate times, certainly their writers are wisely tapping into a national malaise and providing the cathartic, vicarious cure in the form of order-out-of-chaos fiction. And, as for the United States, this might be the beginning of an absolute gold mine era for the genre's writers. What do you think?

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had the idea that social tensions resulting from economic ones might fuel a crime-ficiton book. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and her husband did mention that a banker friend of theirs had been harassed in the street, for example.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I'm glad to have complicated your life in such a matter. Ruth Dudley Edwards skewers academics an at least one of her other novels. You might enjoy that.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Indeed. As one who toils among the academics, I know that academics, for purposes of perspective and humility, need to be frequently skewered.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I believe she picks one special target per book. You may turn into a fan of R.D.E.'s, I suspect.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

It seems as though my local library comes through again (though it is a rare event because of their limited collection). Is this the one to which you were alluding?

Murdering Americans
Edwards, Ruth Dudley.

(Library Blurb): "When the proper Baroness Troutbeck accepts a visiting professor position at an American university, she is instantly at odds with the knee-jerk liberals that make up the faculty. But does she believe the late Provost was murdered, and if so, what should she do about it?"

"Knee-jerk liberals." I love it! And, as a pariah among liberals, I live it!

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's the book that won the CrimeFest award, but she's written at least one other book set academia, Matricide at St. Martha's.

April 27, 2009  
Blogger Lauren said...

*Sigh* I'd love to go to Bristol, and there's a cheap direct flight from here, but CrimeFest itself is just too expensive. (And there's no way I could pretend it's relevant enough for my research to get funding.)

Maybe next year, though that's what I said last time. Anyway, hope you attendees all have fun.

May 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. Are you sure it's too late to look at the guest list and tease out some tenuous connection to your work>

May 01, 2009  

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