Saturday, June 19, 2010

David Owen's Pufferfish and other long-interrupted crime-fiction series

No Weather for a Burial, David Owen's long-awaited fifth novel about Detective Inspector Franz Heineken of Tasmania, known to some as Pufferfish, is now history.

It packs a bit of mystery into its 150 or so pages, a fair piece of suspense into a climactic confrontation, and a nice twist that brings the reader back to a mystery he or she might have forgotten.

There are brief, loving descriptions of Tasmania's natural life, a longtime interest of the author, who also writes about natural history. And there is the Pufferfish prickliness, both from the man himself and from his blunt assistant, Detective Rafe Treadway:

"Jay Ho's Sandy Beach Road property ... hides behind a thick and leaning three-metre high sandstone wall, probably built by convicts in the dwindling years of transportation. But the electronic gate gives a hint of something other than wealth. Down here at forty-two degrees south very few individuals feel the need to lock themselves away from the great unwashed."

"`What a knob,' Rafe says, buttoning down his driverside window and pushing the buzzer on the intercom."
Though the settings are vastly different — one contemporary urban and rural Tasmania, the other 1960s and early '70s suburban England — readers of Colin Watson's Flaxborough Chronicles series might enjoy Owen's gently and sometimes not so gently mocking humor.

David Owen went from 1997 to 2009 between the fourth and fifth Pufferfish books. Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) went twenty-three years between his sixteenth and seventeenth Parker novels. What other crime writers have gone many years between books in a series?

(Read about the 1990s Pufferfish novels here.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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Anonymous Jerry House said...

Two come immediately to mind: Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther and Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence.

June 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

1941 to 1968 between N or M? and By the Pricking of My Thumbs for Tummy Tuppence, according to Fantastic Fiction, and fifteen years between the third and fourth volumes of the Berlin Noir trilogy (which is now up to seven books).

I'd say Agatha Christie is the Brazil of this competition. Thanks.

June 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And Richard Stark is the Argentina.

June 19, 2010  

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