What Kirkus didn't tell you: Three more new crime novels you can read this summer
The novel shares some themes with Glynn's previous books, The Dark Fields (also published as Limitless), Winterland, Bloodland, and Graveland: alienation, paranoia, helplessness in the face of corporate and government power, and the uncertainty of boundaries between the two. But the action centers more on the protagonist than it does in the earlier novels, with distant but distinct echoes of mid-twentieth-century American noir. The book also seems carefully constructed, full of epiphanies that shed shocking new light on earlier scenes. And that may be one more mark of its kinship with The Spanish Prisoner.
McFetridge's empathy with his protagonist, a young police constable named Eddie Dougherty, may remind readers of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels, but McBain never had anything like McFetridge's eye for the way big events and individual lives intersect, the lives always more important than the events. McFetridge's Dougherty books, of which One or the Other is the third, following Black Rock and A Little More Free, don't try to transcend any genre, but I can easily imagine that they would appeal to readers who love to empathize with characters and wonder about everyday lives lived in tumultuous times, whether or not the stories involve crime.
Matsumoto really is reminiscent of Georges Simenon. This is true especially in his portrayals of dogged, unexceptional characters, bewildered, sometimes to the point of pathos, as they navigate the consequences of crimes they understand only dimly.
Matsumoto died in 1992, and little of his large output has been translated into English, so any new publication is welcome. A Quiet Place is a noirish tale full of sparing but sharp observations and pointed critiques of postwar Japanese society. The novel is reminiscent in that respect of Matsumoto's Points and Lines, which I named one of my favorite international crime novels in the first Detectives Beyond Borders post back in 2006. The novel's close examination of a setting observed by the protagonist as he travels through it may remind readers of Akira Kurosawa's classic crime movie Stray Dog or of work by the contemporary Japanese crime writers Keigo Higashino and Fuminori Nakamura.
© Peter Rozovsky 2016