Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spirit houses and other houses in crime fiction

Christopher G. Moore's crime fiction is not generally suffused with nostalgia, but Spirit House, his first novel featuring P.I. Vincent Calvino, does include a kind of elegy for Bangkok's traditional buildings:

"The main house was inside a high-walled compound. ... It looked like the kind of place you could paint with brown, yellow, and black. This was old-style Bangkok before the property developers tore down the traditional Thai houses with sweeping verandas and painted wood shutters. Behind the white wood-framed main house Isan workers in bamboo hats and scarves wrapped around their faces dotted a crazy-quilt of makeshift scaffolding stuck to the side of a twenty-story construction site. More real-estate developers, like the Finns who owned his office building, were looking to make a killing units to rich foreign buyers from Japan and Korea."

I once posted a comment about the evocative descriptions of Shanghai's shikumen houses in Qiu Xiaolong's Death of a Red Heroine and the kholis of Bombay in Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games.

What are your favorite descriptions of homes, houses or other buildings in crime fiction?
(Christoper G. Moore will be part of my "Stamp of Death" panel at Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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Blogger Fred said...

P. D. James frequently features a building in her novels which she describes in considerable detail.

It's usually an older building with some unique features--usually one that developers will tear down in order to put up a larger complex, all in the name of profit (excuse me, I meant progress).

September 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Fred. It sounds as if P.D. James feels about such matters the way Christopher G. Moore does in this passage.

September 24, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

du Maurier's Manderley. Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti and his apartment. Wolfe's brownstone.

September 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nero Wolfe's brownstone is one of the best, made so by the characters who live in it. Thanks.

September 24, 2010  

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