Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Amateurs' professions

Three months ago, I posted a comment about amateur sleuths. "What professions are naturals for future crime novels?" I asked. "What sorts of workers who have not yet been protagonists of crime stories would make good fictional sleuths?"

Since then, the roster of suggested or realized fictional sleuths I have come across includes dentists, political minders, real estate agents and strippers. I leave it to your imagination to figure out what, if anything, these professions have in common.

In the meantime, I'll expand on my earlier questions. What professions are natural for future crime-fiction protagonists -- and what weird or unexpected sleuth professions can you think of? Interpret profession as loosely as you'd like to. In fact, I'll start you off: Samuel L. Jackson's schizophrenic street person/concert-caliber pianist in The Caveman's Valentine. OK, the movie was pretty bad, but its protagonist had an unusual line of work.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I'm hoping that the norm becomes part-time web developers and gardeners - but I could be projecting :)

But ultimately I guess at some stage we're going to find some high-tech professions showing up.

I also thought the use of the local police station cleaner in NZ Author Paul Cleave's first book, The Cleaner was unusual.

January 16, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for your comment. You hope for part-time web developer/gardener protagonists, just as I nourish found hopes for a wave of copy-editor mysteries, even if I have to write the damned things myself.

Surely gardeners must have featured in mysteries before. This seems a natural for the British cozy tradition. (And I would not count Raymond Burr's Lars Thorwald in Rear Window. Flowers were not the main things he planted!)

I have been surprised that high-tech professions seem to be at the center of so few crime novels and movies. This could be because there is nothing exciting about sitting at a keyboard. Henning Mankell's Firewall does use various aspects of high technology to good advantage.

January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good thing about Firewall was also that the technology usage was believable. It's a fine line, you can really tell if an author has no idea about the world they are talking about :)

But you're right about gardeners - now that I think hard about it there's that TV series Rosemary and Thyme (which I rarely watch despite the wonderful Felicity Kendall) because the scripts can be a bit flimsy. But I can't think of a book off the top of my head (which proves nothing as I've got a memory like a sieve).

January 16, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What I liked about Firewall, the first Kurt Wallander book that I read, is that it combines international-thriller elements with small-city police procedural in a way that works. All that through the humble medium of an ATM. Mankell must have done his research. (Incidentally, I'd always assumed that the accent was on the first syllable in Mankell and Wallander. I found out that it's on the second when I attended a reading that Mankell gave.)

And research is important. You'll know that Maxine from Petrona, for example, found fault with Arnaldur Indridason's Jar City (Tainted Blood). I'd read the novel and had no such objection. If I'm not mistaken, Maxine is in a position to know about research techniques. If she's right, then, it should not hamper your enjoyment of the novel or mine. But it may mean that Arnaldur should have done more thorough research before he started writing. If an author makes even the smallest slip, someone, somewhere, will notice.

January 16, 2007  

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