Friday, April 27, 2007

Language schools and other shady settings

I don't know why I think of this now, other than the shark-like principle that governs blogging (For sharks, the credo is keep swimming, or die. For bloggers, it's keep posting, or die), but I realized that Peter Lovesey's The Summons was not the first crime novel I had read in which a language school is a focus of shady dealings. In that book, a character's desire to cover up dodgy matters at such a school is presented as credible motive for murder. Some time earlier, I had read Michael Dibdin's Dirty Tricks, whose protagonist gets himself in a whole lot of trouble, starting with his job at a sleazy language school.

In neither novel do the principal crimes take place at language school, but both books present such schools the way earlier writers presented saloons or used-car dealerships. They are places where bad, dishonest things are just waiting to happen.

So, dear readers, name some other prototypically disreputable locations from your crime reading.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of them seem to take place in religious communities, obviously a great source of shady inspiration. I can't remember exact titles, but PD James wrote one; the one I am reading at the moment features one (this is probably what made me think of it): Sun Storm by Asa Larsson; and there's one US series I like a lot and I'm desperately trying to drag it into focus in my mind -- one outing 3 or 4 books ago featured a religious community from historical times and its dreadful modern legacy etc etc.
But knowing you, you'll be able to think of lots of examples.

April 28, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Åsa Larsson -- there's a name that has come up on the lists of Swedish prize winners that I've been looking at, which means she automatically makes it onto my to-read list.

I can't think of as many examples as you expect me to, but your comment does remind me that religious communities (or cults) captured the imagination of a number of American crime writers from the 1920s to the early 1940s. Or maybe it just seems that way because of such standouts as Hammett's The Dain Curse and Solomon's Vineyard by Jonathan Latimer.

April 28, 2007  

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