Saturday, September 22, 2012

What's the best weather for crime stories?

Iceland's Yrsa Sigurðardóttir has bemoaned the difficulty of setting crime fiction in a country that has almost no crime. The sometimes forbidding Nordic climes offer an offsetting advantage, however: Isolated Arctic outposts and sudden snowstorms make it easy to plausibly strand characters, kill them off, and gather suspects in one place.

Yrsa does this in The Day is Dark, her most recent novel in English translation, and Norway's Anne Holt does something similar in her novel 1222. What other Nordic crime novels take advantage of their settings in this way? How about crime stories from outside the Nordic lands? What crime novels take special advantage of their settings?

(I once spent a week in the Dominican Republic, my bliss marred only by the fear that a coconut would fall on my head as I relaxed under a palm tree. Stage that to look like an accident, and you've got the sort of crime story I have in mind.)

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir will be part of my "Murder is Everywhere" panel at Bouchercon 2012 next month in Cleveland, Saturday, October 6, 10:15-11:05 a.m.

Here's the complete Bouchercon schedule.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Blogger LMR said...

I like Sciascia's murders in sunny landscapes.

September 23, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The opening scene of "Day of the Owl" happens around dawn, but I still somehow picture sun baking that square where the shooting happens.

September 23, 2012  
Anonymous Mark P. said...

I've not really thought about using the weather as a murder weapon, more for mood and atmosphere. Of course, in a city (Paris in my case) the weather's easier to escape from. And no falling coconuts, either... Still, I do like a challenge.

September 24, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cole Porter wrung atmosphere out of Parisian weather. So can you.

In any case, I don't necessarily mean using the weather as a murder weapon. I can't recall Nordic crime writers who enlisted the weather as an agent in the killing, e.g., leaving an unconscious body deliberately to freeze. Yrsa, Anne Holt, and others simply make intelligent use of the setting available to them, which happens to include extreme weather.

September 24, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

We in the temperate zones are probably less likely than our torrid and frigid brothers and sister to make climate a factor in our crime stories. In addition to my Nordic examples, I recently read a crime novel from southern Africa in which the bad guy strands two good guys in the Kalahari, hoping the climate will kill them.

September 24, 2012  

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