Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Thoughts on crime fiction with utterly inappropriate illustration
Thanks to my friend Lynne from a choir I used to be in (that's us in the back row, her third and me fourth from the left) (hi Lynne), I have learned of a hitherto unfamiliar and absolutely cracking new crime fiction writer, a leggy British blonde by the name of Mo Hayder: so far I've read Pig Island, which was gruesome and which ended with the plot poisonously flicking its tail after the manner of Minette Walters, and Tokyo, which was even more gruesome and which engaged with the Japanese invasion of Nanking and massacre of the citizens thereof in 1937. If you've got a strong stomach, she's really, really good.
On the down side, I don't know what has happened to Kathy Reichs but her sentences and paragraphs are getting shorter and shorter and more and more annoying, probably in a misguided attempt to make her character Tempe Brennan appear more 'sassy', a word the use of which I think should be punishable by five years in the company of, oh, maybe Madonna? I suspect there's some New York editor telling her to break it up and make it all snappier, which is idiotic when you think that Reichs's greatest strength is the intelligence and depth of first-hand knowledge and experience of forensic pathology, a topic that cries out for explanation, explication and meditation.
So her new novel -- I can't even remember the title except that it has 'Bones' in it again -- is so far disappointing, because there are more and more of these two-word paragraphs of first-person narration from an increasingly irritating Brennan who is barely recognisable as the heroine of Reichs's first four or five books.
To the best of my knowledge, no crime was committed anywhere in the vicinity on the night this photograph was taken, although rumour had it there was a fifty-million dollar public liability insurance policy to cover what might happen if 250 people, a grand piano, smaller but equally precious instruments without number, and/or an awful lot of microphones and lights somehow fell off the barge into the water. It's Easter Saturday night 2005, and by the end of the concert a huge buttermilk-coloured Easter moon was rising across the river.