Chris Ewan's The Good Thief's Guide to ... novels, the second of which was the occasion of yesterday's post, are bound to contain some self-reference; Ewan's protagonist is a crime writer/burglar whose novels include The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, the title of Ewan's own first novel.
I like the first big block of self-reference in Ewan's The Good Thief's Guide to Paris. For one thing, its introduction is a bit of a surprise. The good thief in question, protagonist Charlie Howard, introduces the self-referential note when a reader might well expect him to be raising quite another matter. For another the reference is full of good humor that ought to make all thriller and suspense readers smile.
Howard is worried about his current book, whose plot involves Rio de Janeiro, Carnival, a bank vault, and a robbery, all to be carried out by his series character acting alone. He seeks a spot of advice and sympathy from his agent, who replies:
"Honestly, Charlie, I have clients who need their hands held from time to time but you can really push it. You're concerned about credibility in one of your Faulks novels? Next you'll be telling me Ian Fleming made a few things up."There are multiple in-jokes here, Sebastian Faulks being among the authors who have written James Bond novels as successors to Fleming. In any case, the reference is an affectionate nod to the stories that I suspect Ewan and many of his readers love.
And now, your thoughts, please, on self-reference and genre in-jokes in crime fiction. Do you like them? Dislike them? Does your reaction vary? Feel free to offer examples good, bad, interesting or indifferent.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009