Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meanwhile, crime

I've been reading an extraordinary amount of murder in the bath the last few days. I haven't reached any startling critical conclusions - beyond

1) Margery Allingham always remarkable.
2) Edmund Crispin brilliant, but sometimes pointless
3) Dorothy L Sayers very literary, but not that interested in variety of suspects
4) When Agatha Christie is good, she's unbeatable. When she's bad, she's puzzling.

Also read "Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" a remarkable French critical text that argues convincingly that it wasn't who you'd think.

I tried reading Anthony Trollope, but 75 pages into Phineas Finn and no corpse. Fail.


Kilian said...

Trollope is not a good source for murder mystery. His intention is more along the lines of psychological insight. Most of the time, there is no suspense or puzzle as to who committed the crime. Sometimes he even reveals it in the first chapter. The rest of the book spells out the inner turmoil of the main character and the reaction of society around him (or her). His forte is delineation of character, and plot comes as a distant second. He is one of my favorite authors, but he doesn't write murder mysteries worth anything.

Orchis said...

What luxury ! Wallowing in water and detective fiction ! Some compensation for the pox.

Have you read Colin Watson's study of crime fiction, "Snobbery with Violence' or, indeed, his Flaxborough novels ?

Perry Neeham said...

Not a murder mystery writer but please do try Patrick O'Brian. Especially his Aubrey/Maturin series - they are like a comedy adventure stories by Jane Austen.

Skip said...

Way We Live Now - stunning book. And I've always meant to read more. I just wish they published a version of Trollope that printed the bits you can skim in purple ink.

Colin Watson rings a bell. Will look him up. Am deciding that Michael Innes is brilliant as ever, but nothing happens. Honestly 180 pages in and only one drowned tramp.