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.

18 comments:

FXH said...

mh - Two new crime writers for me.

I'm a James Lee Burke, Henning Mankell, Peter Temple, etc type - hope they are not too girlie?

Leggy?

Zoe said...

Be careful with the Henning Mankell. The first one consists entirely of coffee drinking and talking about the (Swedish) weather. I am not joking. Later ones I quite liked.

Have you read any of Sharon McCrumb's appalachian crime fiction? I've only read one, which I thought was a cracker.

All good crime writers seem to tire - last Rankin didn't grab me like the early ones.

Zoe said...

Oh, and nice kitty on the sidebar. I see the weatherpixie's lost hers, but perhaps it's been frightened off by her bondage outfit.

Pavlov's Cat said...

FXH -- with you on Mankell (Zoe, agreed re coffee and weather, which do persist -- and he is so SAD all the time. But strangely compelling all the same) and Peter Temple -- I thought The Broken Shore was an amazing book. Not familiar with Burke. Yet.

Girlie? Hayder not at all. Reichs -- well, it's no worse than Lee Child and the wretched Reacher testosterone, I guess. Certainly the Reichs heroine frets more about makeup and undies these days, but that may be because the UST between her and Ryan has finally been R, and a what a bore they have become as a result.

Mo Hayder's photo is on the inside front cover of Pig Island. Heh.

Zoe -- thanks for the McCrumb recommendation. I loves me a new crime writer. Agreed that Rankin may have jumped the shark -- but Alexander McCall Smith has not, AFAICS.

The Pixie's kitty comes and goes. Re new kitten in basket, did you click on 'more' and play with the little red ball on the string?

Amanda said...

PC, I just finished a newish Reichs the one mostly set in Israel but I think there is a newer one. I've read all the others. And I agree about the Ryan relationship, all downhill since they got together. I wanted to give them both a damn good slapping.

I've watched Bones, the TV show based on the Tempe Brennan books, Kathy Reichs is a producer, but the only thing the same is the name and the fact she is a forensic pathologist. They are enjoyable in a breezy tv way.

I also strongly second Zoe's recommendation of Sharyn McCrumb.

I am only just getting into Rankin, just read two of the latter ones so far.

Ron said...

I liked Mo Hayder's Birdman and Tokyo but I really had to force myself to finish Pig Island and felt a touch of guilt passing it on to my wife who couldn't finish it.

Ron said...

I pressed publish too early!

It wasn't the gruesomeness of Pig Island (I think I'm immune to all that stuff now, anyway) that turned me off the book, I just found it boring and a bit silly (geez ... deep and meaningful book reviewer, aren't I?).

I like Sharon McCrumb too.

Spooky ... just went to type in the word verification and guess what it was? hayder! Seriously!

JahTeh said...

Has anybody read John Connolly's books. Not quite crime but good nonetheless.
Not Micheal Connolly, the American, John is Irish.

Cozalcoatl said...

Reiches stuff is pretty good. I'm reading one of the first ones last, but i'll cope. Haven't read the lastest one yet. 'Bones' is worth a watch.
Funny though, I posted on Cunning Plan about basically the same thing, except with smaller words and worse grammer.

Sharon MacCrumb is great.
So is Val Macdermid...ahh Tony Hill, so neurotic, so cute.
Michael Marshall writes some good, icky stuff.( he writes awesome sci-fi as Michael Marshall Smith)
Shane Maloney's Murray Whealan books are very good and funny. Set in Melbourne's political scene.

I've read both John and Michael Connolly, both not bad as i remember, its been a while though.
Johnathan Kellerman isn't a bad time killer either.

Ron said...

Cozalcoatl, I don't watch much TV but Tony Hill in Wire in the Blood is essential viewing for me.

tigtog said...

I'm another Val McDiarmid fan (I think her non-Tony books keep Tony fresh), and like Rankin too although I agree he appears to be winding down. Fond of Sue Grafton.

Cannot go past PD James, still.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I too adore Val McDiarmid, and that is an interesting point about the non-Tony books (although I find Tony quite annoying -- Carol is the more interesting character IMHO). I like the one about the four drunken boys who find the body in the snow, and the one about serial killer who's picking off crime novelists.

She (Val not Carol) was here in Adelaide for Writers' Week in March and she was fabulous -- she told a lovely story about how the TV people had wanted to kill off Nelson and Val expressely forbade it. 'Pretend he's dead and then bring him back to life at the end if you must,' she said she'd said, 'but you cannot kill off that cat. It's the only functional relationship the woman has.'

Cozalcoatl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda said...

Spoiler Coz!!

Cozalcoatl said...

Sorry...you can delete it if you want.
Still bloody horrible.

ThirdCat said...

All right, I've waited days and still no dreadful jokes about Adelaide and crime and your assumption that nothing untoward happened in or around that vicinity on the night. Nothing. Where's the cliche? The stereotype? The faux witty aside?

I suppose now is not the time to mention that even though I'm not 14, I still borrow the odd Agatha Christie from the library.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I have rather sadly deleted Cozalcoatl's spoiler for the benefit of any future reader, and await response to 3C's excellent point. (Wil Anderson when the Snowtown story came out: 'South Australia again, eh? Why don't they just run a line of crime-scene tape right along the border?')

I am tempted to write a whole new post on this subject to provide a fresh venue for comments, but it'd be like getting a basket ready for the cat to have kittens in -- it's a way of ensuring that she goes and has them in the bra-and-camisole drawer.

Cozalcoatl said...

Cool, sorry about that. Got carried away.
Lucky i didn't mention when that guy did that thing, you know....;)