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»All in all, Ripper is a curious mix: a literary banquet overflowing with morsels of Nancy Drew, mouthfuls of Agatha Christie, a sprinkle of Barbara Cartland and dashes of James Patterson and Tom Clancy.«

Sophia Martelli

Isabel Allende’s San Francisco serial-killer story Ripper displays her customary gift for strong characterisation and fine narrative detail, Sophia Martelli says. Her review at The Guardian / The Observer.

»Hoffmann’s story is a timeless nightmare, and you feel that Freud could not have begun his examination of the human subconscious without him (we should remember that Freud was a first-rate reader, and those who object to his case histories ought perhaps to look at them again, as stories). Hoffmann is still influential, as both a literary and a psychological innovator – it is remarkable that this story is approaching its 200th anniversary – and this volume serves as an excellent introduction.«

Nicholas Lezard

A timeless nightmare that taught Freud a thing or two: Nicholas Lezard about the story The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann. His review at The Guardian.

Isabel Allende

»And I realized I cannot write that kind of book. It’s too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there. And the characters are just awful. Bad people. Very entertaining, but really bad people. So I thought, I will take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke. My sleuth will not be this handsome detective or journalist or policeman or whatever. It will be a young, 16-year-old nerd. My female protagonist will not be this promiscuous, beautiful, dark-haired, thin lady. It will be a plump, blond, healer, and so forth.«

Isabel Allende

»It’s great to see the crime-writing community rising up in its own defence. (…) For years we’ve been the butt of ignorant prejudice from the literary genre and we’ve taken it on the chin, muttering in corners and up our sleeves about how misunderstood we are. But clearly we’re not going to stand for it any longer. The great thing about this backlash is that it’s coming from readers as well as writers – it can’t just be written off as wounded amour propre. (Is that a bit too literary? Using French?) «

Val McDermid

Es sollte eigentlich nur ein Witz sein: Die chilenische Schriftstellerin Isabel Allende legte mit ihrem neuen Roman El Juego de Ripper (englische Übersetzung unter dem Titel Ripper, den spanischen Titel könnte man mit Das Spiel des Rippers übersetzen) ihren ersten Krimi vor. Allerdings wollte sie ihr neueste Werk, wie sie in einem Interview mit sagte, ironisch verstanden wissen, denn – siehe das Zitat oben – eigentlich mag sie keine Krimis und Thriller.

Vielleicht ist das nur eine schlechte Marketing-Idee – Autorin schreibt in einem Genre, das sie eigentlich nicht mag, das muss sich ja verkaufen – vielleicht ist ihr Roman durchaus als ironischer Bruch des Genre Krimis zu sehen.

Kaum waren die Äußerungen von Isabel Allende veröffentlicht, schon rührte sich reflexartig Kritik in der Krimiszene. Die schottische Autorin Val McDermid kritisierte in einem Artikel beim Guardian ihre schreibende Kollegin und kehrte einmal mehr das Bild des Krimis als literarisches Schmuddelkind hervor, ebenso wie ihr Kollege Mark Billingham. Auch die Bloggerin Erin Mitchell wirft Allende snobistischen Elitarismus vor.

Diesen wiederum konnte ich in dem Interview mit Isabel Allende nicht erkennen. Sie mag das Genre nicht, sie versucht es ironisch zu brechen. Ob ihr das gelungen ist, kann ich ohne Lektüre des Buches nicht sagen. Grundsätzlich halte ich es aber für völlig legitim, mit einem Genre, dass sie nicht mag, zu brechen. Und sie wäre nicht die erste: Erinnert sei an dieser Stelle an den wunderbaren und viel zu früh verstorbenen Gilbert Adair, der in seiner Evadne Mount Trilogie arg böse mit Agatha Christie, den ästhetischen und inhaltlichen Regeln der Kriminallieratur ins Gericht geht, obwohl er diese Art des Krimis immerhin wertschätzte. Allein die neuen, vor allem blutrünstigen Killerschmonzetten waren Mr. Adair ein Gräuel.

Wozu also die Aufregung? Fallen hier ein paar Autoren auf den Marketing-Trick ihrer Kollegin herein? Oder fehlt ihnen als Krimiautoren schlichtweg das Selbstbewusstsein? Das Schmuddelkinder-Image sollte gute Kriminalliteratur längst hinter sich gelassen haben.

Foto: Mutari via Wikipedia

  • The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon (translated by Linda Coverdales)
  • Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas (translated by Siân Reynolds)
  • Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne)
  • Thirteen Hours by Deon Mayer (translated by KL Seegers)
  • The Depths of the Forest by Eugenio Fuentes (translated by Paul Antil)
  • The Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)
  • River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi (translated by Josephh Farrell)
  • Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (translated by Bernard Scudder)
  • Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar (translated by Domingo Villar)
  • Badfellas by Tonino Benacqista (translated by Emily Read)

Crime beyond borders: British novelist Ann Cleeves with her top 10 crime novels in translation. You will find her list at The Guardian.

  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christi
  • Suddenly At His Residence by Christianna Brand
  • The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
  • The King Is Dead by Ellery Queen
  • La Septième hypothèse by Paul Halter
  • The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
  • The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

The top 10 locked-room mysteries: Thriller writer Adrian McKinty uncovers his favourite »impossible murder« novels. His list you will find at The Guardian. And more about his list you can read at Mr. McKinty’s blog The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

  • Season to Taste by Natalie Young
  • Farthing by Jo Walton
  • Long Way Home by Eva Dolan
  • The Sudden Arrival of Violence by Malcolm MacKay
  • This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

Gimme five: Laura Wilson about new crime fiction books by Natalie Young, Jo Walton, Eva Dolan, Malcolm MacKay & Wiley Cash. Her reviews at The Guardian.

»Chick-noir heroines may struggle to find a happy ending, but they don’t wind up dead, or locked away in a lunatic asylum with quite the distressing frequency of their Victorian forebears.«

Charlotte Jones

From The Woman in White to Lady Audley’s Secret, Victorian novels are full of deceptive and desiring women, Charlotte Jones says. Her article about Chick noir you will find at The Guardian.

»Robinson brings his characters alive by the evocation of their expansive inner worlds, the reaction of each to the events that spiral out from Jawbone Lake.«

Cathi Unsworth

An author with a mission: Cathi Unsworth about the latest novel Jawbone Lake by Ray Robinson. Her review at The Guardian.

»In literature, too, many Northern writers are touched by the same intangible geist, the echoes of post-industrialisation, the employment vacuum left by heavy industry, and the ever-present – if sometimes unspoken – dislike of anyone London-based.«

AK Nawaz

Welcome to the north: AK Nawaz about Scottish crime fiction – aka Tartan Noir – and Scandic detective stories. His essay at The Guardian.