Monday, July 07, 2014

In praise of Jamesian high jinks

I am pleased to report that Snatched, a comic novel by Bill James that includes art theft, revenge, malicious flashing, and trenchant social comedy, is shaping up as worthy company to the author's Harpur and Iles novels. Here's a sample of the opening chapter:
"In a throaty, not quite panic-driven voice, Jervis, one of the economy-measure, hourly paid, part-time porters, said: `Ladies and gentlemen officers of the Hulliborn Regional Museum and Gallery, we have got what could be designated in my opinion a fucking riot at the Fire Department, pardon the demotic. ... "
(Photo by your humble blogkeeper)
In short, this seems the sort of book for which the term high jinks was invented, and that's good.

I have long been in awe of the Harpur and Iles novels. If you don't want to take my word for it, listen to Ken Bruen, who
"abandoned British crime years ago except for Bill James, who I love. ... His Iles and Harpur series is magnificent."
(Photo by your humble blogkeeper)
or Tim Hallinan, who wrote that
"If I were told I could only read five writers for the remainder of my life, and I had to name them at that moment, both Bill James and Anthony Powell would be on the list." 
Here's a checklist of the Harpur and Iles novels. While deciding which ones to look for, read my 2009 interview with Bill James, Part I and Part II.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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2 Comments:

Blogger Cary Watson said...

Bill James is the best. I've always felt that if Harold Pinter had tried his hand at crime fiction he would have produced something like Harpur and Iles. I don't really read James for the plots, it's the quietly demented characters and elliptical dialogue that's the main attraction for me. And he's maintained a very high standard of writing for a long time.

July 07, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

James' first sixteen or so Harpur and Iles novels spoiled me, though. What has followed has fallen short, I think, though each has had delightful aspects. The Pinter comparison makes sense.

This book brings the comic side, always strongly present in the Harpur and Iles novels, even more to the fore.

July 07, 2014  

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