Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Murder is Everywhere in the blogosphere

Another group of crime writers from around the globe has banded together to form a collective blog. Murder is Everywhere is Leighton Gage, author of the Mario Silva series set in Brazil; Cara Black, whose Aimée Leduc investigations take readers all over Paris; Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, collectively known as Michael Stanley and the authors of the Detective Kubu mysteries, set in Botswana; Iceland's Yrsa Sigurdardòttir; and, from the exotic land of England, Dan Waddell.

Initial offerings include Gage's account of a crime reporter from northern Brazil, with emphasis on crime and reporter.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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54 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

So what you're basically saying is that there are no more gaps in the market: every geographical location and most time periods now have a detective. I dont find this comforting. Maybe we'll have to start going down to the parish, county or street level or exotic epochs no one has yet considered: Fred Flintstone Forensic Scientist; Captain Caveman Undercover Cop.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nah, I'm dipping into my stock of rhetorical figures and coming up with hyperbole, borrowing from Leighton Gage's name for the new blog.

In any case, your idea is not new. I have a book of mysteries set in times before ours that opens with a story set about 30,000 years BC. It's a locked-cave story.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Also, I think there is another way of looking at it. I do really notice that readers get hooked on regions. The Swedes, and by extension the Scandinavians have really caught on to this, and the Irish are not far behind. I think that when Americans read crime fiction, and like it, they think, I want to read more like that, and geography is one of the ways they approach this. You have to start thinking of it in terms of a school of writers. Because readers do. They don't want authors to be alike but they want them to be familiar or similar. It's tricky.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

seana, I got hooked on Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti books as much by the Venetian atmosphere as by the good cop himself.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Yep, me too. Though I do like Brunetti.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I first became hooked on international crime fiction through Janwillem van de Wetering's books. These were notable for their wry, humorous, philospohical approach more than for their Dutch settings, though Van de Wetering captured those nicely, too.

What books are strongest on setting and atmosphere? Qiu Xiaolong's "Death of a Red Heroine," perhaps, or Seicho Matsumoto's books. And then there's a guy called David Peace ...

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, anyone who doubts that there is a rage for Nordic crime fiction can look at this year’s shortlist for the CWA International Dagger Award. There is nothing wrong with such outbursts of enthusiasm as long as publishers and readers don’t turn their back on worthy authors once the rage for a given region passes.

Why the current interest in Nordic crime writing? I don’t know. Perhaps the explanation is something as banal as the Nordic countries’ producing lots of good crime writers these days. And that success breeds success. Henning Mankell acknowledges Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, and current Swedish crime writers acknowledge Mankell.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have not yet read Donna Leon, I must admit. It seems to me I have read more about Donna Leon and about Brunetti's wife, Paola, than I have about Brunetti himself.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Paola's pretty much a background figure for the first half-dozen books (that's all I've read so far; I have two days to read the next two before they're due back at the library). Where have you read about her, Peter?

November 19, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I think that's why I like, accurately or not to think of it as schools of writing. I think crime writers do tend to read other crime writers and be influenced by them and it would make sense that some of the strongest influences would be regional. For one thing, I think there is a lot of craft aspect to it and when you see how another writer successfully conveys your region, it gives you both new scope and heart for the project. I think it does actually help you find your voice to see someone making use of material that it didn't really occur to you to mine.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I remember some mutterings that Paola was too perfect -- too beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, too good a cook, and so on.

This earned me a visit to England, because the keeper of the Crime Scraps blog, a big Donna Leon reader at the time, acknowledged that the criticism might be just. But his own wife, he said, could cook fish as well as Paola Brunetti could.

I may put that to the test, I said. Be my guest, he replied, so Mr. and Mrs. Crime Scraps put me up at their house in Devon for a few days, fed me, and took me around Dartmoor. And yes, Mrs. Scraps cooks a mean piece of fish.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I should think about schools. I wonder if there are cases of an author from a region previously not noted for crime writing being inspired by a compatriot forerunner even though his or her own writing may be totally unlike that of the literary ancestor.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I'm just aware of it because in my non-crime fiction reading group, we've recently read both Wallace Stegner and James Houston. Both have a wonderful ability to convey not just the Northern California landscape, but also the sensibilities of the people who've come to inhabit it. I was happy, though not surprised to learn then, that Houston had been Stegner's student at Stanford.

I think when you're struggling to find your form, it's not surprising for a writer to find some antecedent who can give him or her a clue about how to go about it, even though the learning writer may take what they've learned and go in an entirely new direction. In fact, one hopes they will.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a wonderful discovery to make.

Perhaps I had in mind one of Declan Burke's odder explanations for the recent wider acceptance in Ireland of Irish crime fiction. He says this may be due in part to chick lit's having forged an acceptance of genre fiction in a country that had previously looked down on such writing. Perhaps that theory puts Burke in the non-school school of literary influence-seeking.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I hope you were kidding about the cave man detective.

Has there ever been a murder mystery that takes place on that Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole? There are what two dozen scientists there? Constant daylight. That could be a nice closed-room mystery.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Paul D. Brazill said...

I'm forming a social network for writers who spend more time in the pub than writing. It's called ShitfacedBook. Any takers?

November 19, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Adrian: The South Pole mystery might not have been written yet, but Dan Simmons takes on a very similar story in THE TERROR (perhaps a bit more thriller than mystery).

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

One author who is strong on setting is Eliot Pattison. His novels are set in contemporary Tibet and most likely are banned in China.

As for the historical time period, G. M. Malliet, in her latest--_Death and the Lit Chick_-- has a character busy writing a mystery set during prehistoric times.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I was not kidding about the cave-man detective, though to be fair, the protagonist is more an amateur sleuth. Furthermore, when I searched on line for references to the story, I found mention of what appears to a novel set in the same period.

And yes, there has been crime fiction set in Antarctica. And don't forget that that master, Reginald Hill, set a story in space.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Adrian, I refer you to Alistair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra and/or Night Without End, both crime/espionage novels set in the Arctic.

These were written by the not-yet-enraged and not-yet-a-dipsomaniac MacLean.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., by now you'll have found out that the South Pole mystery has indeed been written -- several of them, in fact. Click on the link in my reply to Adrian, and you'll find your way to a world map. Click on the appropriate spot on the map, and you'll find listings for "In Cold Pursuit" by Sarah Andrews and "Dark Winter" by William Dietrich.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I have read several of Eliot Pattison's Inspector Shan novels, and I'd agree that is not likely a favorite of China's government.

G.M. Malliet might belong in the previous post's discussion as well. Her novel Death of a Cozy Writer was up for an award at Bouchercon in Indianapolis. I don't like the word cozy, though someone invoked P.G. Wodehouse in a discussion of Malliet's writing.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I wonder if Malliet has her character working on a prehistoric mystery because she finds the idea absurd. But, as demonstrated here, nonfictional authors write such stories as well.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Paul, that sounds like a good way to get those writers writing even less. I like the idea of an author staggering home from the pub and, instead of collapsing in bed fully clothed, logging on to the Internet.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, thanks for the additions to the roster of non-dipsomaniac North Pole crime fiction.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

I have read both of GM Malliet's works--Death of a Cozy Writer and Death and the Lit Chick. They Both are great fun as she brings out the cliches one can think of.

I'm looking forward to her third book, coming out shortly-something about death and the alma mater or alumnus or something similar. I expect it to be a murder that takes place at an alumni reunion.

I haven't read much of Wodehouse so I can't say whether there's a similarity.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

The hero detective, DCI Arthur St. Just, thinks it strange when he hears about the novel, but when he laughingly mentions it to an agent, the agent disagrees. She says it's a great idea, and she has just become the writer's agent. She feels she will have no trouble selling it.

When I read it, I thought Malliet was spoofing the incredible expansion of historical mysteries.
But now...?

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I'd probably be more open to cozies if they only went under a less obnoxious name. I've read and enjoyed Ruth Dudley Edwards, L.C. Tyler and one of Peter Lovesey's Bertie, Prince of Wales novels, and all would reasonably be called cozy in the U.S., though there is little cozy about any of them. I just hate the damned name so much, and you'll see from my recent post on the subject that even some authors who write cozies may agree.

Wodehouse was one of the great humorists and stylists. He was prolific over a long career, so you have much to read and enjoy. At least one collection offers several stories from each of his many series. I especially like the golf stories, the Mulliner stories, the Bertie and Jeeves stories, the Drones Club stories ...

At least two crime writers whom I've read in recent years, John Lawton and Ruth Dudley Edwards, pay explicit tribute to Wodehouse in their own fiction, either by writing scenes in his style or by borrowing characters' names.

Lovesey's Bertie and the Seven Bodies pokes fun at the English countryhouse mystery even as it offers a skillful example of the genre. Writing in our own time, Lovesey portrays the late Victorian era in the style of a mystery written in the 1930s. It's a virtuoso feat, and if more "cozies" were that good, I'd probably read more of them.

G.M. Malliet's third book is to be called Death At the Alma Mater.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Malliet may well have been spoofing the boom in historical mysteries. But then, even authors who write such mysteries may be having similar fun. If I recall correctly, the author of the circa-27,000 BC tale I mentioned wrote the story just for the fun of setting a story that far in the past.

The story is built like a Holmes-era tale. One conceit is a brief scene set in our own time in which an object central to the ancient mystery turns up in a museum.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Peter, if you think "cozy" is an obnoxious label, consider what I heard was the Canadian markekting label: "fluffy."

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I first heard the term "fluffy" during the panel discussion I wrote about in my previous post. Yes, "fluffy" is worse than "cozy," and some of the other terms that came up during the panel were worse than that. Except for marketing purposes, though, I don't think the women who wrote these stories -- and all the panelists were women -- were terribly concerned about what label one applied to their work.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

I don't like the term either, but in this country, at least, it seems to have stuck. People at the local independent mystery book store have tried to categorize mysteries and "Cozy" is one of the categories.

In my own scheme, I don't use the term. Most "cozies" would fall into the "police procedural" or "talented amateur" categories, I suppose.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

R. T.,

You are right: a "cozy" doesn't sound nearly as bad as a "fluffy."

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

A fluffy!

Just think, if G. M. Malliet had been a Canadian, the title of her first book could have been _Death of a Fluffy Writer_.


Now, what images does that inspire?

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The term has, indeed, stuck. In an article to which I link in the previous post, Ruth Dudley Edwards indicates that the term is principally American. She also says Reginald Hill calls their kind of crime writing "the Jane Austen end of the crime writing spectrum," certainly a more honorable aspiration than "fluffy" or "cozy."

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Invoking Jane Austen to denote a certain kind of crime writing is useful, if only as a reminder that a story need not be graphically violent on the one hand or preeningly cute on the other. I also like the term "traditional mysteries," and I wonder when that term came into use. It had to be a reaction to the proliferation of non-traditional crime stories.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fluffy at least has the virtue of self-deprecating humor. Call something fluffy, and you're acknowledging with a smile that it's a bit over the top.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Just think, if G. M. Malliet had been a Canadian, the title of her first book could have been _Death of a Fluffy Writer_.

Now, what images does that inspire?
"

It inspires images of a Pomeranian banging away at its computer.

November 19, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Good film Ice Station Zebra but not as good as Where Eagles Dare, especially the bit with the Wehrmacht helicopter.

November 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Wehrmacht helicopters at the South Pole in David Lean's classic film? Wow!

November 20, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Here we go with the helicopters again.

November 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Our man Adrian will chase anything with rotary blades.

November 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You know, I think Clive James writes songs, too. I'd like to see him fronting a band called Clive James and the Wehrmacht Helicopters.

November 21, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Yes, I can go along with "the Jane Austen end" of the spectrum.

PD James, in an interview, said her favorite writer was Jane Austen and that she thought that, if Austen was alive today, she would be writing mysteries.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd like to see how far P.D. James pursued that line of reasoning. Jane Austen certainly enjoyed observing human behavior and character. This would seem well-suited to writing mysteries.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I suppose by that James means Austen would be writing her sort of crime fiction, and not 'tough guy fiction at its gory, heart-stopping best', a la McKinty. But you never know.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The same thought crossed my mind -- Jane Austen today might write something like Peter Lovesey's "Bertie, Prince of Wales" books, and probably not anything with a brooding, loner protagonist. But here's a thought: I know of one one current crime author whose novels are about odd families and are full of rich comedy: Allan Guthrie.

And that reminds me: Apparently "Pride and Prejudice With Zombies" has sparked a trend. Have you heard of Stona fitch's novel "Senseless?" Well, I propose "Senseless and Sensibility."

November 22, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a huge hit. Unfortunately for your idea they have already brought out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It isn't playing as well, though. Zombies are in. Sea monsters, not so much.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I still say there's room for my idea, especially if one is familiar with Senseless. But how about Mansfield Park and Mutants, then?

November 22, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I don't know. It's really a pity she didn't take the trouble to write something that begins with V.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

She should fire her agent.

November 22, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

It has been many years since I saw the interview, so I really don't remember much more about what James said than what I already wrote.

I think it was at the end of a PBS Mystery presentation of one of James' mysteries that I saw the interview.

November 23, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Yes, I suspect that's what James meant--a cerebral mystery where the head is used more for thinking and less as a receiver of blows and lead projectiles.

But, as you say, one never knows.

_Pride and Projectiles_ by Jane Austen.

_Persuasion: an offer she couldn't refuse_ by JA

November 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Persuasion With Punches. Or, ranging further afield, an entirely new sub-genre: hard-boiled with recipes.

Fred, if I think of it, I may try to track down that interview or references to it. Perhaps Jane Austen might have written witty, well-plotted traditional mysteries -- in the manner of Reginald Hill.

November 23, 2009  

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