Thursday, July 01, 2010

Crime-fiction team-ups

This news makes me wish I could read Italian better: Carlo Lucarelli (left) and Andrea Camilleri (right) have teamed up on a novel, Acqua in Bocca, that pairs Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano and Lucarelli's Grazia Negro.

Here's a clip of the two authors talking about their "romanzo a quattro mani" — their novel for four hands. The video is worth a look even if you don't understand Italian. But what is Camilleri doing puffing away on that cigarette? Doesn't he know smoking will shorten his life?

***
I always liked comic-book superhero team-ups when I was a kid, but such pairings are rarer in crime fiction. Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice teamed their protagonists in the entertaining collection People vs. Withers and Malone in 1963, and Donald Westlake and Joe Gores shared chapters, in which both authors' cast of characters appear together in action included in novels by both writers.

What crime-fiction crossovers have you enjoyed? If you can't think of one, create your own. Which crime characters from different authors could work well together?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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39 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Italian critical reviews and Camilleri/Lucarelli fans'/readers' reviews have been very cool. Along the lines of "was expecting more" "plot not credible" "made a mountain out of a molehill" etc. The novella is only 108 pp. long, even shorter discounting illustrations, afterward, etc. The most cynical reviewers claim, probably with more than a little truth, that this is a vanity project, a cheap marketing gimmick by the publisher ("the publishing event of the year"), perhaps better known for publishing books of motion picture screenplays and film criticism than contemporary literature.

At least one Italian reader notes the plot is similar to that of one of Camilleri's non-Montalbano novel, "La scomparsa di Patò" ("The Disappearance of Patò").

Be that as it may, I've ordered it from IBS.it and look forward to reading it and drawing my own conclusions.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I see that each author is donating proceeds to charity, so the marketing gimmick may be for a good cause.

I was thinking that a short, episodic, epistolary novel might be a good target for my basic Italian.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Simona said...

I have not read La scomparsa di Patò, so I cannot weigh on that. And I have not read any reviews of Acqua in bocca. I picked up the book and read it quickly. I enjoyed reading the story the way I enjoy listening to a musical scherzo. And I was expecting something on the line of a scherzo. Right before it, I had read La caccia al tesoro, the latest Montalbano novel, quite a dark story.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger MikeB said...

Husband and wife Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller have had their detectives crossover and work with each other twice, and not just the same pair. In 1984's DOUBLE his nameless detective and Sharon McCone teamed up, and in BEYOND THE GRAVE (1986)her Elena Oliverez met Pronzini's John Quincannon.

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Linda said...

Amanda Cross & Patricia Cornwell...alas!
C.J. Box & Dana Stabenow
Louise Penny and Jane Langton (Gamache & Kelly)

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Mike. I would guess that Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller still enjoy one another's company and work. I know Pronzini has included Muller's work in at least one anthology without, as far as I can recall, mentioning their relationship, which was odd. And there can't be too many authors who have done pairs of crossovers like that.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, that's a delightful comparison, the story like a musical scherzo. Perhaps some readers expected an opera seria. Where would you recommend ordering the book?

Interesting that the latest Montalbano novel is a dark tale. The series is nearing its end, after all.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linda, Patricia Cornwell has acted oddly enough had taken enough grief for it (and made enough money) that no comment is required here. Besides, I haven't read her work. But I have read and enjoyed Amanda Cross, her short stories in particular. She had a deadly wit, and no one, as far as I know, thinks Patricia Cornwell had a sense of humor, so I wonder what a collaboration between the two would have been like.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I would have liked to see Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake cross over. Dortmunder could certainly have found a use for Bernie Rhodenbarr in one of his capers, although Bernie wouldn't find it a comfortable experience at all, and I'd like to read about the clash between Ray Kirschmann and Bernard Klematsky.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Which crime characters from different authors could work well together?
Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple should, if nothing else, make for an interesting pairing.
As would Chesterton's Fr Brown, and Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley
(although I haven't checked to see whether Fr Brown is a Jesuit)

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"Where would you recommend ordering the book?" -- Perhaps Simona has another source for her Italian books (including visits to Italy) but I buy most of my Italian-language books from www.ibs.it (Internet Bookshop Italia). It is currently on sale for 7 euros, 3 off the cover price. Shipping is a bit pricey but shipments come very quickly and I've never had any problems with IBS.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Matthew, I'm surprised Block and Westlake didn't cross over since they were friends and poker partners. Westlake did have Dortmunder break into their poker game that included Otto Penzler, which offered a tantaliing hint of what could have been. I don't think Westlake used real names, though.

I'm pretty sure it was Dortmunder who executed the break-in, though it might have been Bernie Rhodenbarr.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, I like the idea of Tom Ripley and Father Brown.

One wonders how Jane Marple would have coped with Hannibal Lecter.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Elisabeth. I'd seen it for 8 or 9 euros, but I had no idea about the reliability of various shippers.

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

To maximize shipping costs/value, you might also order one of the Montalbano short story collections...? An easy way to dip into Camillerian language.

And if you've already visited the IBS Web site, you may have noticed they also sell English-language books. Again, to maximize shipping costs, I've ordered here rather than go to amazon.uk for UK-available-only titles.

v-word = chipter What dialect is that for "chapter"?

Or is a chipter the guy that picks up a chippie?

July 01, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

One wonders how Jane Marple would have coped with Hannibal Lecter.
I can't quite recall whether any reference was made to her culinary skills , or her tastes in wine?

And I presume there must be some baseball fanatic PI, or cop, who perhaps mightn't see eye to eye with the soccer-loving Hibernians fan, Rebus.
(especially if he's from the Bronx)

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Matthew: Yep, it was Dortmunder, in a story published in Thieves' Dozen.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, that's a good idea. I might also shop for books also available in translation, then read a chapter in English followed by the corresponding chaper in the original. That worked for me with one of Janwillem van de Wetering's novels, and I discovered some interest differences.

A chipter is a device that chops a chapter into little chips.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, who are the big sports-fan protagonists other than Rebus? I don't count Peter Temple's Jack Irish, because he works with horses rather than just playing them. He's also an Australian-rules football fan, I think, so maybe he qualifies there.

One possibility could pair Thorndyke or Holmes with Maigret -- meticulous detection clashing with a more sympathetic approach.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Sports-fan protagonists? Dick Francis's Sid Halley, former jockey turned PI. Sid's the only professional detective in Francis's books, too.

JA Jance has brought JP Beaumont and Joanna Brady together twice in her two series about the Seattle investigator and the southern Arizona sheriff.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Does she make their coming together plausible, given the disparate locations?

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Yeah, I think so. Body found in Arizona was formerly of Seattle, or something like that.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, I wonder if jurisdictional squabbles or personality clashes happen in real life the way they do in fictional depictions of situations in which forces work together. I've seen tons of statements from prosecutors and so on heaping praise on members of this, that or the other task force for collaborating, so I have to believe that they don't always do so.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

If Jack Irish is an Australian-rules football fan, he probably wouldn't take too kindly to being paired with a soccer fan, so perhaps it could be crime fictions answer to 'The Odd Couple', Peter.

Poirot and Maigret could make an interesting pairing: Poirot being a Belgian, and Maigret being a Belgian writer's Parisian creation.

And speaking of (the Papist) Father Brown and your boy, Iles?

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

TCK: "...the soccer-loving Hibernians fan, Rebus." -- Hmm... doesn't he go to games mainly to keep real-fan DS Siobhan Clarke company?

Peter: "Peter Temple's Jack Irish...works with horses rather than just playing them." Really?! Not in the 2 or 3 I've read (well, maybe he pats them). Then I have something to look forward to as PT is an extremely sensitive and empathic animal observer.

"...read a chapter in English followed by the corresponding chapter in the original." Yes; that might be an even better idea than a ss collection--pick one of your favorite Montalbanos.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I quite like the idea of Iles paired with a priest, given his manipulation of his CC Mark Lane. (I don't remember when Mark Lane enters the story, but he's quite a figure in a number of the novels.)

I was thinking Odd Couple, but I couldn't bring myself to say the words. I hope some of these hypothetical pairings would be good for more than just laughs.

I recently read an assessment of Maigret that emphasized the obvious: that the interest in the Maigret stories lay in the protagonist's sympathy, especially for the perpetrators. The assessment added that Simenon's plots could be far-fetched and Maigret's detecting rudimentary. That's why I thought sparks might fly if he were paired with a more conventional detective protagonist.

Of course, Fred Vargas achieves something like this effect with her intuitive Adamsberg and his highly organized sidekick Danglard.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I should have said that Jack Irish works in the horseracing world rather than with horses, though at least one book does have him watching horses work out, if I recall correctly.

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"...at least one book does have him watching horses work out" -- yes, he and his fellow plungers watch the workouts of horses they are planning on making a killing on at the racecourse. OK, so JI/PT may not actually work hands-on with horses but he knows the racing world very well. This was also true of Dick Francis' (also mentioned in this thread) early novels where vivid racing scenes and stable yard activities were a major component of the stories.

Horse racing yarns are pretty much a thing of the past here in the US, where racing itself is a dying spectator sport, so I have to go to British, Irish, and Australian crime fiction for my fix.

Can't think of any other sports-loving protagonists, probably because I tend to skim over sports descriptions (anything involving a ball that is not on a polo field) not directly related to the plot.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Possibly there are few sports-loving protagonists because sports-loving generally means loving to watch a sport rather than play it, not an easy thing to get across in fiction in a way that would interest readers. Jack Irish's interest in Australian rules football comes through in his chats with old mates of his father, who I think used to play the sport.

Manuel Vazquez Montalban was a huge soccer fan (and gourmand, political activist and source of Salvo Montalbano's name) in addition to being a crime writer, and he set a novel within the world of soccer. I haven't read it though.

But then, I should have distinguished between sports-loving protagonists and sports-loving authors. It's relatively easy to make one's detective a fan of a given sport -- too easy, because being a fan is too common a trait to be a distinguishing characteristic. It's harder to know a subculture such as that of horseracing or soccer well enough to be able to write about it convincingly.

July 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"It's harder to know a subculture such as that of horseracing or soccer well enough to be able to write about it convincingly." Very true. And good authors don't try to insert games or sports they are not familiar with. Philip Marlowe didn't participate in spectator sports as a general rule, not only because he had to adhere to his self-imposed loner status but because Raymond Chandler didn't know much about, or care about, spectator sports.

Peter Temple captures a spectator's, a punter's, experience of a horse race--the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat--in a way that only a guy who's won and lost can do. These well-paced passages are thrilling to read.

July 01, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I've just watched a beautiful little film, 'Murder by Contract', which is included on the 'Columbia Film Noir Box-Set', and I couldn't help thinking that at the very least the contractor's hapless minders, and even the contractor himself, could have come straight out of Beckett.
What kind of a police/detective/PI pairing could Beckett have come up with??

Elizabeth, I don't recall enough of Rebus' affinity for Hibs but I'd imagine it must have preceded any romantic entanglement, especially if he's from Edinburgh.

Peter, Mark Lane featured in 'The Lolita Man', but he worked for a 'rival' police force

July 01, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

It was certainly easy for Stout to make Archie a baseball fan. One of the later books (mid-1960s) has Archie going somewhere and deciding to think about something other than the case he's on, so he tries to decide whether he'd rather have Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax on his team. Considering Mays was already in the 13th or 14th season of his 22-year career, that's pretty high esteem. Archie ended up picking Willie because Sandy's arm was too much of a risk. (Koufax's hand trouble first appeared in the 1962 season.)

July 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I've just read a passage in "Truth" where the protagonist receives to major pieces of information from a colleague, the sort of thing one might call a one-two punch, Except Temple has Villani call it a quinella. Interesting; I didn't know quinellas were part of the Australian betting system.

I'd say that in the Jack Irish books, he probably captures the experience that goes deeper than that of even most serious punters. He may have won and have lost, but he does more than just capture what that must be like, he explores how the entire system that makes all that exhilaration and depression possible.

July 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, that's good evidence that Stout loved a good, idle baseball argument as well as the next fan. And don't forget "This Won't Kill You," in which Stout put the Red Sox in the World Series years before they got back for real.

July 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, the guesses at what kind of pairing Beckett would come up with are just too easy -- two cops sitting around the squad room, waiting for reports, cases that congeal ...

It's not giving away too much to reveal that Mark Lane eventually moves over to Harpur and Iles' patch and becomes chief.

July 02, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

two cops sitting around the squad room, waiting for reports, cases that congeal
Peter, do you mean sitting in 'rubbish bins', or perhaps more that the squad room would resemble a pig sty?
Or, that they'll be burying their heads, rather than the rest of their bodies, in the sand?.
Yeah, I heard Lane had switched sides: should make things even more interesting
(I haven't read the third book in the omnibus, yet)

July 02, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

I wish I could have read about a dinner table conversation at the home of Paola and Guido Brunetti (Donna Leon's detective) with Aurelio Zen (Michael Dibdin's) as their guest. Venice was home to both detectives, though Zen had to work elsewhere and was forever homesick. I'm sure he would have benefited from Paola's fabulous cooking, too, as well as from her intelligent insights. I can imagine the two detectives sharing information to assist each of their cases.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Alas, a Dibdin-Leon collaboration is a sad impossibility.

Hmm, Paola could have shovelled her cooking into Zen to help him recover from his shooting. Perhaps they could have talked about opera as well.

July 04, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

“I didn't know quinellas were part of the Australian betting system.”

Yes, most of N America’s betting terms are used in Australia. The two I can think of that are really different are the “running double” (our “daily double”) and the “each way” bet, an abbreviated version of our “across the board” wager. My track buddy has an online wagering account and we like playing the Aussie races – big fields and good payouts. And Aussie racing is just plain fun to watch – short meetings at lots of different race courses with different layouts, so horses don’t always run in counterclockwise direction as they do in N America, varied distances run, etc. Their flat racing season is just about over, I believe, as it is winter down there. My current Aussie fave is a 6-yr-old mare named Hot Danish. I’ll bet Peter Temple has seen her in person!

And, yes, Temple’s descriptions of the racing world go beyond the narrow one of the punter. He writes knowledgeably and affectionately about people, like myself, for whom …"the words love, hope, and dreams are synonymous with horses." (Oliver Wendell Holmes). Irish and his plunger pals are mostly in it for the dough but to do this they depend on people like the stereotypical young girl for whom horses are her first and always love. People who live and breathe horses and for whom betting on them is an adjunct to that passion.

July 06, 2010  

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