Archive for November, 2007


Posted: November 27, 2007 in Uncategorized


Just a reminder that the The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli is due out in March 2008.

And as another treat Via delle Oche, the final book in the De Luca trilogy by Carlo Lucarelli, translated by Michael Reynolds, is expected in May 2008.
I started to count the books I have read so far this year and realised that there were about 34 novels, 7 non fiction but crime related books, and 6 non fiction history books. This averages out at about a book a week, of which 15 of the novels were set in Italy! I did not realise it was that many considering the amount of time this year I have spent driving all over Dartmoor, watching the Rugby World Cup, and suffering from toothache.


Posted: November 27, 2007 in Uncategorized


The study from the UN on the world’s most desirable countries to live in is out.
The top five do also seem to have the benefit of some fantastic crime writers to chronicle their rare crimes.
1) Iceland
2) Norway
3) Australia
4) Canada
5) Ireland


Posted: November 25, 2007 in Uncategorized


You can read my review of Gilbert Adair’s A Mysterious Affair of Style at:


Posted: November 22, 2007 in Uncategorized


Hard Boiled Mystery Writers arrived yesterday, and I can see myself dipping into frequently it for fun and inspiration. Perhaps it will be unfair to compare and contrast any modern author with these greats, but who cares.

Chandler said of his detective Philip Marlowe:

“He is neither tarnished nor afraid. He must be a complete man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor….I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin.”

This seems rather a dated statement, but strangely reminiscent to me of the mixture of chivalry and corruption in stories of Alexandre Dumas. Our modern world would be a lot nicer place to live in with a few Marlowes and D’Artagnans around to clean up the mess.

Perhaps that is why we read crime fiction?


Posted: November 22, 2007 in Uncategorized


England’s football management team, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs confer on a week of problems.
England 2 Croatia 3
UK Government 0 Fraudsters Paedophiles Utd 25,000,000


Posted: November 21, 2007 in Uncategorized


I asked about crime fiction characters that have become closely intertwined with their cities in the public imagination. Thanks to linkmeister for Matt Scudder and New York, and Maxine of Petrona and the Philly Inq for Morse and Oxford, Charlie Resnick and Nottingham, and Reg Wexford and fictional Kingsmarkham.

I had mentioned John Rebus Ian Rankin’s detective and Edinburgh, wondering whether Rankin was overrated. It seemed a cruel thing to do in possibly denigrating an Icon of Scotland after Scotland 1 Italy 2!

But although the three Rebus books I had read previously, Strip Jack, Resurrection Men and Fleshmarket Close had not impressed me that much I have found The Naming of The Dead much more to my liking.

Ian Rankin has of course won an Edgar [2004 Resurrection Men], 2005 Crime Thriller of the Year [Fleshmarket Close], a Diamond Dagger 2005, Deutsche Krimi Prize, Grand Prix de Literature Policiere and an Icons of Scotland award.

He has an OBE for services to literature and four honorary doctorates, therefore one treads with great care in reviewing or commenting on his work.

Is he original? He certainly did not invent the down at heel insubordinate policeman.

Is he fun to read? Well I am 200 pages into The Naming of The Dead and not only do I like the message, but the slight school boyish Rankin humour is hooking me in.

“my own fair hands, so the spelling might not be up to to your own high journalistic standard.”.
“What is it?” She was unfolding the single sheet of paper…………………

……”It’s all kosher, Marie. If you don’t have a use for it…..”

He held out his hand to take it back.

“What’s a “serial kilter”? Is that someone who can’t stop making kilts?”

“Give me it back.”

Ian Rankin has been marketed and branded successfully, his fame seemingly increasing as Scotland moves politically further away from England.

Perhaps because of his fame, the prizes and awards I am expecting something more than a good crime fiction book with a political message. Am I expecting The Maltese Falcon written by Sir Walter Scott?

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book, to see how the plot develops. But now there is a football game to watch……….

Footnote to the day: it seems my son was at school, and in some classes with the “Grim Reaper”.


Posted: November 19, 2007 in Uncategorized


I did manage to see part of another program during the Sherlock Holmes weekend. This was entitled the Shackles of Sherlock, which told of the attempts by Arthur Conan Doyle to be regarded as a serious writer of historical novels, and escape from his Great Detective.

I do remember that my father loved Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard stories set during the Napoleonic Wars.
His efforts were not rewarded as his readers were obsessed with Holmes and objected when he killed him off at the Reichenbach Falls in 1893.
The publication of the Final Problem cost the Strand Magazine twenty thousand subscribers, and lead to an outbreak of black armbands.
If those that are obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, and believe that he was a real, get short shrift from Richard A. Posner then I wonder what he would make of the Wolfe Pack.
Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, was a longtime member of the Baker Street Irregulars. His enormously fat practically immovable detective who solved crimes with his brain, was yet another tribute to the Holmes intellect.
Just as Dr Watson is the narrator in the Conan Doyle stories, Archie Goodwin narrates for Rex Stout.
There are some conflicting theories about whether Sherlock Holmes had an affair with Irene Adler [A Scandal in Bohemia], and the product of that union was Nero Wolfe.
Was Wolfe born in Montenegro, or Trenton, New Jersey?
Well it does not matter because it is believed he fought in the Montenegrin Army in the Great War, and in the novel The Black Mountain Wolfe and Archie attempt to avenge the death of Wolfe’s old friend Marko Vukvic, and his adopted daughter Carla Britton, in a story set in Montenegro.
The Wolfe Pack meet on the 1 December to award an Archie Lifetime Achievement Award, and the speakers will include the Montenegrin Ambassador!
The present holders of an Archie are an exclusive group:
Rex Stout, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie
The contenders to join them are:
Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ngaio Marsh, Edgar Allen Poe and Dorothy L. Sayers

I was trying to think of a modern crime fiction author whose creation had assumed a sort of existence beyond the pages of his books. An author whose work is linked with his city so firmly in the mind that one can’t think about that city without thinking of the detective.
It has to be Edinburgh, and Ian Rankin’s detective John Rebus.
But is Ian Rankin overrated? Is John Rebus such an eccentric figure and such a unique creation as to warrant Rankin’s inclusion into the most exhalted company of crime fiction writers?
Or is Rankin just a nice guy who writes about yet another world weary detective?
to be continued…………


The November quirky quiz has been solved by Laura R, 10 points to her and null point to me.
The photograph was of Galway Cathedral, in the beautiful west of Ireland in one of the rare moments when it was not raining. I certainly know why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle.
Galway, home of Ken Bruen, his detective Jack Taylor, and the Claddagh ring. Well done Laura R, I shall have to think up something more difficult for the December quiz.


Posted: November 18, 2007 in Uncategorized


It was a Sherlock Holmes Weekend on ITV3 and although I was too busy to watch I did catch the Elementary, My Dear Viewer piece in which actor, and Holmes aficionado, Richard E Grant studied the appeal of the Great Detective.
There was some interesting input from three giants of the genre Val McDermid, P.D. James and Jeffrey Deaver looking even more cadaverous than usual. Apparently Lincoln Rhyme was created as a paraplegic because Deaver wished to create a detective who would defeat the criminals solely by the use of his superior intellect, as a tribute to Holmes.
None of the participants would have enjoyed the hatchet job by Richard A. Posner in the New Republic back in 2004 [thanks for the link to Detectives Beyond Borders], when he reviewed The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie S. Klinger and made statements such as:
“Holmes is for the immature….. this absurd obsession…..the reading of detective stories is simply a kind of vice that, for silliness and minor harmfulness, ranks somewhere between smoking and crossword puzzles.”

The article is long but well worth a read if only to realise how misguided a judge and graduate of Harvard law School can be.

to be continued…….


Posted: November 18, 2007 in Uncategorized


We went to see Beowulf on Friday afternoon. The film was quite an experience with superb computer graphics and digital effects that were way beyond my understanding. Robert Zemeckis the director had done a fine job of adapting the long olde English poem for the screen. My wife was impressed, and she knows about poems, although she did not remember Angelina Jolie in the original.
The only drawback was that the film was showing at Exeter’s Vue Multiplex Cinema. From the outside this building resembles a bunker in downtown Baghdad, and its architectural style can be summed up as “super carbuncular”.
It is only when one finds the door, a difficult task in itself, and enters that the full horror of the place really hits you.
Downstairs it resembles some kind of burger bar, that makes the average KFC or Burger King seem like the Ivy in comparison. The garish colours of the entrance make way for an interior that was designed by Grendel, himself, aided by a coterie of retired Stasi agents.
Extraordinary rendition would be a fate too good for these designers.
This is an establishment that sells soft drinks and sticky popcorn in superlarge and extra superlarge sizes, yet has more cinema screens than urinals. It will take a very good film to get me back into this hellish place again.