»Lately, though, publishers have been pulling out some mighty big guns in the series revival game. This fall, two celebrated British novelists, Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong) and William Boyd (Any Human Heart) have published a new Jeeves and Wooster and a new James Bond novel, respectively. Come spring, the Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville will publish a new Philip Marlowe novel under the pseudonym he uses for his own detective fiction, Benjamin Black. All three of these authors can be counted among the most esteemed British and Irish literary novelists alive today — which is a far cry from pen-for-hire jobbers like Ripley.«
When celebrated literary novelists revive classic heroes of popular fiction, the results can be surprisingly good, says Laura Miller. Her view on new books by Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd and John Banville with familiar characters at Salon.
I Was Jack Mortimer by Alexander Lernet-Holenia, originally published in 1933 entitled Ich war Jack Mortimer, is »a fascinating snapshot of Vienna between the wars« says Laura Wilson. Her review of this and four other new published crime books you will find at The Guardian.
»Tatiana leaves the reader hoping that Smith’s Arkady Renko series, like that loop of film, plays again and again.«
Lean and swiftly paced: Gerald Bartell about the novel Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith. His review at SFGate.
»But Maggie differed from her contemporaries in another crucial way. In an era when most mysteries featured strong men, or non-aggressive women like Miss Marple or Nancy Drew, Maggie’s protagonists were smart, difficult, and sometimes threatening. They were women who shared a quietly desperate view of a hard-boiled world.«
Mores and corruptions of a stratified society: Kathleen Sharp with worth reading portait about literary suspense author Margaret’Maggie’ Millar. Her portrait The Dangerous Housewife at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
»The «hard-boiled» genre of detective fiction – tough realism with a vernacular dialogue; a focus on the less noble side of humanity – was defined for all time when Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, a multi-layered tale of greed and deceit.«
Dashiell Hammett‘s drama was a ground-breaking work of detective fiction which paved the way for film noir, says Will Hodgkinson. His essay you will find at The Telegraph.
» Q. You’ve said that the detective novel is a barometer of narrative production in any country. By that metric, where does Italy rank?
A. Narrativity presumes a special taste for plot. And this taste for plot was always very present in the Anglo-Saxon countries and that explains their high quality of detective novels. It is absolutely true that until recently there was nothing in Italian similar to Agatha Christie or Ian Fleming, not to speak of Sherlock Holmes. But there is something new. As in the Swedish culture, where there was an enormous birth of crime stories, in Italy for the past 20 years, there’s been a great production of good-quality detective stories. It’s a miracle — suddenly the Italian culture discovered the art of the plot.«
Exploring imaginary lands with one of Italy’s masters of fiction: Stephen Heyman in conversation with Umberto Eco about fiction and Mr. Eco’s latest book The Book of Legendary Lands (dt.: Die Geschichte der legendären Länder und Städte). Read an excerpt of the conversation at The New York Times.
»Even as Death of the Black-Haired Girl barrels along toward its melancholy conclusion, it explicates its characters’ hope that life is not completely random — «people always want their suffering to mean something,» as one character puts it — and their contradictory awareness of the dangers of religious certainty; their understanding that choices have moral consequences and that innocents frequently are tangled and hurt in the crossfire. The result is at once a Hawthorne-like allegory and a sure-footed psychological thriller.«
A messy affair: Michiko Kakutani about the novel Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone. Her review at The New York Times.
»I suppose it is a matter of honesty: the books are not trying to be anything other than themselves. Nevertheless, there hangs about them a suggestion of something dark and disturbing, profound almost, as if Simenon had, through a technique not very far from automatic writing, discovered something fundamental about the soul. Perhaps this is where the greatness of his books lies.«
The reissued edition of the first Inspector Maigret novel, Pietr the Latvian, captures perfectly the moral squalor of a seedy prewar Paris, says Nicholas Lezard. His review of the novel by Georges Simenon you will find at The Guardian.
- Blood on a Saint by Anne Emery
- Really Dead by J.E. Forman
- Up In Smoke by Ross Pennie
Crimewave: Sarah Weinman about new crime fiction books by Anne Emery, J.E. Forman and Ross Pennie. Her reviews at the National Post.