Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tonino Benacquista's "Someone Else" plus a provocative question

Tonino Benacquista's Someone Else poses a problem for category mongers.

This tale of two Parisians who meet on a tennis court and agree to shed their identities features crime only incidentally. The plot sounds in outline like a Patricia Highsmith-style psychological thriller, yet the novel is much more a social comedy, though occasionally of a heart-rending kind. And, though the author is French, the novel is no frothy farce.

But call Someone Else a meditation on love, aging, and the cruelties of the corporate world, and you're apt to paint too solemn a picture.

I was carried away with reading the novel and so took few notes. One passage that I did highlight comes close to capturing the book's appeal:

"Trying to find predictable aspects in everyone was to deny the irrational element in each of them, the hint of poetry, absurdity and free will. Some kinds of madness were beyond any logic, and most — like Thierry Blin's — were not recorded in the great books on pathology."
That may not be the world's freshest philosophical statement, but it's quite another matter to take the theory and put it into practice in the form of a story, and an entertaining, occasionally affecting one at that. Benacquista does it here.
***
Tonino Benacquista (right) was a guest of honor at Crimefest 2010, where he made the provocative statement that "It must be understood that the dominant source of innovation (in crime fiction) is the U.S."

His interviewer, Ann Cleeves, disagreed. What do you think?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

Labels: , , , , , , ,

73 Comments:

Anonymous kathy d. said...

This is interesting. Maybe because there are so many genres of mysteries in the U.S., that he'd say that, that U.S. authors "broke the mold," so to speak, took chances, with different types of mysteries. Is that what he meant?

Did he mean Chandler, Hammett and the others who followed were innovative? And then other writers went their own way here?

Don't know about this. Surely there were innovators here, but there are many around the world, writing differently--styles, content, genre.

What do others think?

I don't know about that

June 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't remember the context of Benacquista's statement, but a few minutes earlier, he had singled out Raymond Chandler as an influence, the Philip Marlowe novels in particular. He seemed especially taken by Chandler's famous statement about a man who walks down the mean streets but is not himself mean.

In her disagreement, Ann Cleeves singled out Fred Vargas and Dominque Manotti as non-American crime-fiction innovators. It may be of interest to note that, like Manotti and Vargas, Tonino Benacquista is French.

June 01, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I don't know the answer to this. My own sense is that at this point in time, American publishing is a bit risk averse, but that there are exciting things coming out of foreign writing in translation. The Swedes are a huge case in point, but actually it's coming in smaller ways from everywhere. A book that we've sold a lot of recently, thanks to it having been international translation month, and a very attractive cover is Zuluby Caryl Férey.

Well, and you already know that I have a great attachment to what those Irish writers are doing.

June 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm a cross-cultural type of guy, and I always find it interesting when crime writers from outside the U.S. cite American influences. Such citations require historical context. I don't know to what extent Tonino Benacquista's statement takes into account current crime writing, for example, and to what extent it reflects his own fascination with Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe.

I wonder where Swedish crime writing fits in this discussion. It's easier for me to cite Sjowall and Wahloo's innovations than those of current Swedish crime writers, as much as I enjoy some of their work.

Stanley Trollip, one half of the Michael Stanley writing team, was recommending Zulu any chance he got at Crimefest.

June 01, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I've felt very proud of myself for getting Zulu out on our translation table, but the reality is, it's popularity probably has very little to do with me.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That makes two worthy recommendations for Zulu, so if I go ahead and read the book soon, you will have had something to do with its popularity in my corner of the world.

South Africa, of course, is a rich source of crime fiction these days. Its crime-fiction profile may grow, what with Zulu and its prizes, plus Deon Meyer's shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I really need to read Meyer and now this. I hope this will be a catalyst for that.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

It's hard to argue with Benacquista's assertion. 'Dominant source of innovation' doesn't suggest that the US has exclusive rights on innovation; and, historically, in terms of content and style, names like Hammett, Chandler, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Elmore Leonard, Barry Gifford, George Higgins and James Ellroy have all been responsible for reinventing the form to a considerable extent. Other countries have innovators too, of course, but none as consistently as the US, I think.

Cheers, Dec

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, you might have a look at Roger Smith as well, and at that fine anthology of short crime fiction from South Africa, Bad Company, which I got from Stanley Trollip at Bouchercon in Indianapolis. The man is a fine ambassador for his country's crime fiction.

June 02, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, I agree about Vargas being innovative. Have not yet read Manotti, but she's on my "book to be ordered" pile.

Yes, Sjowall/Wahloo were innovative, too.

I think Indridason is creative, but the ruminating, depressed, introspective but brilliant detective isn't new in Scandinavia, as Mankell and others have such characters and Sjowall/Wahloo's detective was somewhat despondent and self-reflective.

I don't know. One can zoom from one country to another, one mystery genre to another today, in the flash of an eye--or trip to a bookstore or library or on-line bookazine. Or a virtual trip to a mystery website/blog.

Where is the credit for creativity and innovation? Juli Zeh's "In Free Fall" is unusual.

I'd imagine all of the books up for the Dagger are somewhat innovative.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I think Arnaldur Indridason's originality lies in his use of Iceland's geography. Other crime writers may do this -- you know that cliché about setting being a character -- but he goes farther. Whether this counts as innovation, I don't know, and I don't think it matters, because his work is like no one else's. (He also does a better job than most with the ruminating, depressed, introspective detective. In fact, I'm not sure I'd call Erlendur depressed. )

June 02, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I think Indridason's writing is like no one else's which is why I hope his book wins the Dagger, although I may not be judging this properly as I haven't read most of the other books.

I do agree as I said earlier about Vargas but if we open the definition of innovation to a much broader one, many readers and bloggers would contribute authors' names to this list, in many mystery genres.

One can see this in the various crime fiction blogs which reflect readers' personal tastes about authors and books.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's easy to get bogged down in discussions like this and lose sight of the pleasure one ought to derive from books. Is the centrality of georgraphy in Arnaldur's novels innovation, or is he doing what others have done before, and doing it better? I don't think it matters much, at least not until it comes time to assess an author's place in the history of crime writing.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

At the risk of adding to the bog, I'll just say that Desmond Bagley's thriller/adventure books use geography about as well as I've seen it done. "Running Blind" is set in Iceland and makes the reader see the place (pre-financial meltdown), while "The Snow Tiger" is chock-full of descriptions of New Zealand's avalanche country.

Captch: undogism. What the heck is that? An all-pervasive belief in the benefit of a dogless life?

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Undogism is the dogma that dogs are mere illusions. This is not to be confused with unbogism, which I will not practice for purposes of this discussion.

I had not heard of Desmond Bagley until the recent CrimeFest, where his name featured prominently in a panel discussion of forgotten authors. Search for "Forgotten Authors" on the CrimeFest program here.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Declan, I think authors may be more ready than critics and readers to acknowledge American innovation. My man Bill James, for example, told me that "the one book that influenced me above all was `The Friends of Eddie Coyle,’ by George V. Higgins, for its dialogue and its subtle treatment of the fink situation," and Roger Smith pays tribute to Chandler in the opening of "Mixed Blood." Benacquista's statements about Chandler and American innovation are interesting since "Someone Else" is not especially reminiscent of either.

I wonder whether the lines of innovation and influence differ on the less hard-boiled sides of crime fiction, traditional mysteries and psychological thrillers, for example. Would someone who reads or writes those kinds of crime fiction be likelier to disagree with you and Tonino Benacquista?

June 02, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Maybe this is all a subjective point--that we, as readers and appreciators of crime fiction--decide what we think is innovative and creative.

Of course, if there were an international prize that determined this, that would make it objectively determinable by a panel of judges, but, otherwise it seems it is subjective.

June 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One can wear one's self out looking for innovation. I wish I'd thought of buttonholing Tonino Benacquista for examples.

June 04, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes. That would have been interesting.

I still think this is subjective and that we all learn which authors readers think are innovative by reading reviews and blogs at mystery crime sites.

Again, I refer again to Petrona and Eurocrime which post reviews about many books which seem to be highly creative and innovative. And, also many other international blogsites and U.S. ones, too, where enthusiastic blog entries and responses give readers' reactions to new books.

June 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, quite naturally I agree with you about blogs as a rich source of opinions about new books (and old ones, too), more than one will find in newspapers these days.

June 06, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Oh, my gosh, infinitely more opinions than in a newspaper--except in Marilyn Stasio's wonderful biweekly columns in the NYTBR.

Lots of opinions on blogs--and lots of tangents, too, which are usually fun to follow.

But if one reads a lot of mystery blogs--international,or U.S.-geared, there is such a gamet of tastes in crime fiction, it rather boggles the mind.

And it often seems the opinions are of earth-shaking importance, as so many lives are centered around reading, I have found.

June 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I ought to read her work more.

A great range of tastes, yes, but sometimes the great number of tangents can take great amounts of time to follow.

June 09, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

True about tangents. I see the post on humor in crime fiction has generated 172 responses. Is that a record? And much of it wasn't about humor.

But people want to communicate, to express their views, and, as I've found, converse--and on a variety of points.

June 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nope, the record is here.

The humor discussion took off on just one tangent, really: torture porn, and Colin Bateman had mentioned the issue in his Guardian post, so the discussion was not all that tangential. But yes, I often enjoy seeing the directions in which intelligent participants can take a conversation.

June 09, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

That 435-comment blog section is so-o-o- long. When I have a few hours, I'll read it.

I'm not sure of what the essence of it was but I'll find out.

Meanwhile, have a deadline and have 27 pp. to go in Sue Grafton's latest book, an Asa Larsson waiting to be opened and a Garry Discher, although that is my carry-with-me-to-find-a-bench-or-cafe book.

And have a dvd set of early Hitchcock to attempt to see.

Kathy

June 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It began with short remarks about a book, then went off on tangents far wilder than the humor thread did. If Blogger has not deleted some of the comments, you will see that one of the world's best crime writers weighs in.

You have some good reading and viewing ahead (the books, I mean, not my blog thread!)

June 09, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Who--Adrian McKinty?

I think Cliff Notes are needed on the 435-message blog. Or a synopsis at the end. It's an assignment to read all of that.

Sue Grafton's "U" book did have some wit. And it was relaxing and riveting.

What do readers here think of Garry Disher?

Also, thinking about the other blog post that Stieg Larsson could have cut the violence against women in half and still made the same points and explained Salander's behavior.

June 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, Adrian McKinty is pretty damn good, but Peter Temple is who I had in mind.

A quick skim ought to give the flavor of the string. The major themes will emerge quickly.

I've made a few posts about Garry Disher, if you'd care to search for his name on my blog.

June 10, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Actually, I was just about to write Peter Temple's name in the reply as instead of proofreading something I had to do, I read most of the 435-message blog.

It is hilarious. It made me laugh louder and more often than the blog on humor in mysteries. How it got from German helicopters to Germaine Greer is quite something, and then to Michelle Obama's clothes (actually, the fashion world revolved around Jackie Kennedy's clothes during JFK's reign), and then to "mixed-marriages" is a riot. (Maybe we should be quizzed on the development of this blog post.)

The "mixed-marriage" bit is funny. But it's true. On my Irish side of the family, my father's grandparents had one of those; every day for 50 years, they'd each tell each other that "the Catholics" or "the Protestants" were going to hell.

Also, I weigh in on this: I don't like English Englishisms in mysteries; I like U.S.-English or at least neutral words and phrases. Or else it is like driving a car and coming to a screeching halt while out on a country road...annoying!
(I say "English" out of sensitivity to Ireland, Wales and Scotland!)

That blog proves that one can name any topic and a discussion will ensue, maybe an argument.

I wonder why it ended and how. Will have to read the rest tomorrow.

June 10, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Okay, I had to go back and finish reading. Why did this blog discussion end? It could have gone on forever.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think it did, just dispersed through different places.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has ...

I read most of the 435-message blog.

It made me laugh louder and more often than the blog on humor in mysteries. How it got from German helicopters to Germaine Greer is quite something, and then to Michelle Obama's clothes (actually, the fashion world revolved around Jackie Kennedy's clothes during JFK's reign), and then to "mixed-marriages" is a riot. (Maybe we should be quizzed on the development of this blog post.)


Good gosh, I'm pleased you were entertained, but please -- no quiz. I would fail.

I don't like English Englishisms in mysteries;

This can be jarring in translated mysteries, and I can well imagine English readers finding U.S.-English translations similarly jarring. If a U.S. reader reads a novel translated competently from, say, Italian, into American English, the language becomes transparent; the reader imagines that the characters are speaking Italian. But if those characters start talking about lorries or anoraks or wellies, one has the curious sensation of "hearing" Italians talking like Englishmen. English readers, of course, would not notice this. To them, the characters are speaking normally, transparently.

I don't know to what extent publishers take this into account when, say, a U.S. publisher buys rights to a British translation or vice versa. It seems to me that UK translations of Jo Nesbo's books contain more Britishism than do American translations, but I've never compared U.S. and UK editions of the same book, so I can't be sure.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has left ...

Okay, I had to go back and finish reading. Why did this blog discussion end? It could have gone on forever.


For the same reason that bar crowds disperse. People get tired or they have to go home. Closing time arrives. Or maybe Seana is right.

June 10, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

What a lot of fun! I did have to skip a few long posts but there were a few authors I have to pay attention to, like Manotti and Carlotto and some Australians. I did spend time reading about the interesting Christina Stead, whom I didn't know about. Turns out our library only keeps one copy of her books at the main branch, not to be taken out, so that's the end of that idea.

Anyway, what fun.

Now, what was the final result of the German helicopters? Never mind.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Closing time never really arrives on a blog, though, does it? So that can't be it.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Kathy, for the love of god, do not start up that operational German helicopters of WWII argument again! I happened to mention this discussion to my teenaged, military obsessed nephew recently and he said, "Well, actually..."

Apparently among certain kinds of men (or boys) it works like a virus.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has left a new comment ...

What a lot of fun!

Now, what was the final result of the German helicopters?


I'm glad you enjoyed it. I am no more an authority on German military helicopters now than I was then, but it seems to me that no one satisfactorily rebutted Adrian McKinty's statements on the subjects. So his word is final until and unless someone gets the discussion going again.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

seana has left ...

Closing time never really arrives on a blog, though, does it? So that can't be it.


You're right; it must have been something else. Changing of the seasons. New geological era. Shifting of tectonic plates, maybe.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

You can't say shifting of tectonic plates to a Californian, though.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

seana has ...

Kathy, for the love of god, do not start up that operational German helicopters of WWII argument again! I happened to mention this discussion to my teenaged, military obsessed nephew recently and he said, "Well, actually..."


So, where does the young man stand on this issue? Never mind; he can post a comment himself.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

seana has left a new comment ...

You can't say shifting of tectonic plates to a Californian, though.


Yikes, I wasn't thinking. Sorry.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Luckily for me, he has finals this week. But let's just say it's likely the discussion would be resumed if certain parties became aware of it.

Kathy, I forgot to mention that Christina Stead came up on my own blog a couple of days ago. The post itself wouldn't add much to your knowledge, but there are a couple of good links to better Stead students here.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Well, we're kind of used to practicing denial in the situation. Best not to say it to my cousins considering coming out from Illinois, though. Earthquakes are the main reasons we have to visit them rather than the reverse. Even though they are living on a much bigger fault that they're practicing their own form of denial about.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

seana has ...

Luckily for me, he has finals this week. But let's just say it's likely the discussion would be resumed if certain parties became aware of it.


I'll keep my mouth shut -- for a price.

Kathy, I forgot to mention that Christina Stead came up on my own blog a couple of days ago. The post itself wouldn't add much to your knowledge, but there are a couple of good links to better Stead students here.

I don't remember if I mentioned this during the original thread -- you'll have to check with Kathy -- but I first read Christina Stead's name in a Harvey Pekar story.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What's the Illinois fault?

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

The New Madrid Fault

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, seems to me this calls for greater humility in our understanding of this planet than even Al Gore would have us adopt.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I think it did come up that Christina Stead was in a Harvey Pekar story. Sorry to say I don't get Pekar's humor but my sister thinks he's great.

I will check out Christina Stead as mentioned in Seana's post. I did read a bit about her last night, interesting life. She wrote the Marie Curie movie script or part of it. If this is the right movie that I'm thinking of, it starred--dare I say it? Another Greer--Greer Garson (no relation to Germaine Greer!).

How easily these posts can trap one and revert back to topics as dangerous as German helicopters and Irish Catholic/Protestant mixed marriages (of which my great-grandparents were so afflicted.)

Time to retreat to the NYT and Asa Larsson and stay away from helicopters and women named "Greer."

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I read the first Asa Larsson and liked it quite a lot. Just haven't gotten on to the rest yet.

Peter, well, if you go through even a semilarge earthquake, you do realize that the earth is going to win every time.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, it's not just the humor with Harvey Pekar, it's the dead-on depiction of everyday life. I am a big fan of his.

I have read one of Asa Larsson's novels, and it contains no helicopters or characters named Greer, as far as I can recall. I did visit Marie Curie a few years ago, however.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I liked "Sun Storm" quite a bit.

Yes, I suppose even a semilarge earthquake can make one understand all too viscerally why our ancient ancestors tried to placate nature gods.

Of course, you can stroll amid the redwoods for a more pleasantly awesome view of what nature is capable of.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Personally, I would stick to the open meadows if I had the option.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Let's call the whole thing off.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I was actually going to do that whole tomatoes, tomahtos thing, but actually, you spell them the same way.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You say t'm8oes, I say toe-MAW-toes.

Finally the language of text messaging does some good.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Very good, on Marie Curie; read the link.

Actually, movie about her starring Ms. Garson is quite good.

I did like Asa Larsson's first two books, although they got pretty brutal. I'm reserving comment on book three until I read it, always a wise move.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has ...

Very good, on Marie Curie; read the link.

Actually, movie about her starring Ms. Garson is quite good.

I did like Asa Larsson's first two books, although they got pretty brutal. I'm reserving comment on book three until I read it, always a wise move.


Swedish crime novels I've read may describe the consequences of a brutal act of violence, but the authors will generally not depict the act as it's being committed, nor will they linger lovingly over gory details. Maybe that's why they don't get accused of excess or torture porn, at least as far as I know.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Except for Stieg Larsson who does depict violence against women as it's happening or at least a gory description of a past horrendous act.

That's a big controversial issue over his writing--whether it's gratuitous, unnecessary violence or whether it's needed for the story and understanding Lizbeth Salander's actions.

Asa Larsson's books have a lot of hands-on violence; book II was heavy, so heavy, in fact, that book III starts out with the main character having had a breakdown.

A book by Ann Holt wasn't terribly violent but the murder methods were really gory, creatively so, but vile.

June 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read Åsa Larsson's "Sun Storm" (titled "Savage Altar" in the UK), and you can read my discussion of the book here. That may have been her first novel; I'm not sure.

Henning Mankell, that dean of contemporary Swedish crime writers, will not generally show a gruesome killing happening, but he will portray its aftermath. Someone asked him at a reading why he will show so graphically the consequences of sickeningly violent acts, and his reply was disarmingly simple: "Because such thing really do happen."

June 12, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, I'm finishing Asa Larsson's third book "The Black Path." It's sinister and heavy, very well-written and interesting.

However, now I'll turn to a light thriller with comedic aspects or to a full comedy altogether.

I'd better read two books at once from now on, a weighty tome full of mean behavior and a light, witty one.

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has ..

Well, I'm finishing Asa Larsson's third book "The Black Path." It's sinister and heavy, very well-written and interesting.

However, now I'll turn to a light thriller with comedic aspects or to a full comedy altogether.


Not a bad idea, and a practice I occasionally follow. If you're ever pressed for time, Allan Guthrie's novels are both witty and filled with mean beheviour. They also tend to be on the slim side, ideal for the crime reader who wants everything in one handy package.

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

kathy d. has ..

Well, I'm finishing Asa Larsson's third book "The Black Path." It's sinister and heavy, very well-written and interesting.

However, now I'll turn to a light thriller with comedic aspects or to a full comedy altogether.


Not a bad idea, and a practice I occasionally follow. If you're ever pressed for time, Allan Guthrie's novels are both witty and filled with mean beheviour. They also tend to be on the slim side, ideal for the crime reader who wants everything in one handy package.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, I may go for a Lisa Scottoline book; she's usually quite funny. I need a break before I read "Hypothermia."

I think the newest Monkeewrench is at the library waiting for me. That may be witty enough for now. The writers have good humor in their books.

Anyway, I have decided I cannot read one book after another with brutal, terrible murders and mean, selfish perpetrators, although the two crime solvers--the attorney and the woman police detective are fine or it would be all doom and gloom.

This Nordic track is rough sometimes.

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lisa Scottoline, who writes a column for my newspaper. And here’s an excerpt from one of the Monkeewrench books.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Actually, if "Badfellas" is witty, it may be time for me to read that.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I have read all of the aforementioned Monkeewrench books, except for the new one, "Shoot to Thrill," and liked them a lot. So can't wait for this one.

And have read most of Lisa Scottoline's and enjoy them, especially the ones with the law firm of women attorneys. Those are funny.

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's not a bad little excerpt. And "Badfellas" sounds as if it might be a bit of a break between your bouts of fictional grimess and violence.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Asa Larsson's "The Black Path" got harder to read, with a very complicated ending and a bit of northern Swedish spiritualism. Will say no more so as not to write a spoiler.

But it's definitely time for humor and a bit of a break before more Nordic crime. Or a Joseph Finder thriller; his are clever and witty.

June 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, no spoilers. But spiritualism, or at least religion and its odd off-shoots, figured in "Sun Storm," as did the northern Swedish setting, so its no shock that she turns to them in "Black Path" as well.

I wrote about James McClure's "Caterpillar Cop" recently. I'd be curious about what you'd think of that or of his other Kramer and Zondi mysteries. They are set in apartheid-era South Africa, which means some serious issues come up. But there is a bit of a light-hearted approach as well, not exactly Dalziel and Pascoe go to South Africa, but a politically aware police procedural that manages to maintain a light touch.

June 15, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Thanks, but I wouldn't find a book set in apartheid-era South Africa light or funny in any way. I'd be thinking of the overall circumstances all of the time.

Maybe a Dalziel and Pascoe. I haven't read these but I hear "Midnight Fugue" is good.

June 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, think of that novel's attitude toward its apartheid-era environment as something like M*A*S*H's attitude to war (the movie, not the interminable television series).

June 15, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I can't compartmentalize my brain like that, would be visualizing Denzel Washington as Steven Biko, lying on the ground, gasping for breath, beaten within an inch of his life, or of the children shot at Soweto.

For some reason I could watch the MASH tv shows and liked them but if I had known then what I know now about that war, maybe I wouldn't have been able to do that. I couldn't do it about a tv show like that about the Vietnam war, I know too much.

And I can't read mysteries set in WWII either for this reason--the enormity of the horrors, unless it was of the Bielski brothers or other resisters in the forests of Belarus or elsewhere, knocking off Nazis.

June 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, a panel at last year’s Bouchercon crime fiction convention discussed crime fiction set during war. All the members were authors who write crime novels that take place in wartime, and some interesting issues came up. You’ll find a discussion of that panel, along with other posts I have made about war, here.

June 15, 2010  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home