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© Peter Rozovsky 2007
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"
"[Fox] has moved the focus away from the forensic pathology side of criminalistics and moved to the coal-face of the homicide detective office in a police procedural story that twists behind a series of cunning facades."I'd asked for examples of authors who changed protagonists. Damien shows the practical effect of one such change. Thanks, mate.
“I broke off, but too late. I was about to say, even supposing your husband is telling the truth – and supposing doesn’t mean conceding – proving it, or at least creating a reasonable doubt, will be extremely difficult. I broke off because I didn’t want to reawaken her more than reasonable doubts.”That’s Guerrieri talking to the wife of a client jailed and accused of smuggling forty kilograms of cocaine from Montenegro into Italy. Look how much Carofiglio tells us about Guerrieri in three simple sentences. He’s lawyerly, he’s good-hearted, he’s humorous, and he sends the narrative off in two directions: toward Guerrieri’s case, and toward his relationship with the client’s wife. Reasonable doubts (a literal translation of the Italian title) does double duty in its legal sense and its everyday sense.
"Holly set the coordinates to the flight computer, and let the wings do the steering for her. The countryside sped by below. Even since her last visit, the Mud Man infestation seemed to have taken a stronger hold. There was barely an acre of land without dozens of their dwellings digging into its soil, and barely a mile of river without one of their factories pouring its poison into their waters."I've come to realize something else about Colfer now that I've read three of his novels and am into a fourth. It has to do with the old saw about a comic being someone who says funny things, while a comedian says things funny. Colfer is a comedian. He has a knack for fashioning sentences in such a way that even lines not obviously meant to elicit a laugh are amusing. I hope to build a comment around this fascinating and entertaining subject soon.
"Like an economist, I worked backward, fabricating arguments to fit my conclusions, bolstering them with statistics plucked from thin air."
"According to what I'd read in the papers, he was a key player in preparations for the Seoul Olympics. You know, the ones with the persistent background odor of tear gas."
"At one time, the area had specialized in textile and footwear manufacturing, back before wiser heads than mine decided that the country needed fifteen-dollar Indonesian running shoes more than it
"My heart, never reliably buoyant, sank. But I knew immediately what I must do. What any reasonable, thinking, politically aware member of the Labor Party would do under the circumstances. I left the scene."
"The other port was in Wiltshire, beside what humans referred to as Stonehenge. Mud People had several theories as to the origins of the structure. Hypotheses ranged from spaceship landing port to pagan center of worship. The truth was far less glamorous. Stonehenge had actually been an outlet for a flat, bread-based food. Or in human terms, a pizza parlor. ... And anyway, all that cheese was making the ground soggy. A couple of the service windows had even collapsed."And now, readers, what makes you laugh in crime fiction or at least smile widely?
"Nobody had a clue what had happened until they replayed the incident on the screen of Kamal the chicken man's camcorder. ... The traders laughed so much that several of them became dehydrated. It was the funniest thing to happen all year. The clip even won a prize on Tunisia's version of the World's Funniest Home Videos. Three weeks later, Ahmed moved to Egypt."
"He spoke. `Saul and Fred and Orrie. At eight in the morning in my room.'© Peter Rozovsky 2007
"My brows went up. Saul Panzer is the best operative south of the North Pole. His rate is ten dollars and hour and he is worth twenty. Fred Durkin's rate is seven dollars and he is worth seven-fifty. Orrie Cather's rate is also seven dollars and he is worth six-fifty."
“Thirty to forty years ago, crime in Ireland might involve an ageing farmer murdered over an inheritance dispute, sweet nothings in the ballroom of romance turning to violence in a country lane. Now we have teenage drug barons plugged in cold blood on quiet suburban streets, headless torsos fished out of canals, contract killings as an extension of the services sector, and most notoriously, a fearless crime reporter executed in her car at a busy intersection.”With Declan Hughes’ statement in mind, readers, what other boom towns have produced classic crime fiction?
“As Ken Bruen, one of our most highly-rated crime writers wrote:`I didn’t want to write about Ireland until we got mean streets. We sure got ’em now.’”
“`It’s part of the tradition too,’ declares Declan Hughes. `The hardboiled novel always depended on boomtowns where money was to be made and corners to be cut: twenties San Francisco for Hammett, forties LA for Chandler.’”
“`Nuts.’ Cramer stood up. … `I’m taking Goodwin. They’ll take his statement at the District Attorney’s Office, a complete report of the conversation. I’ll have a man here at two o’clock to take yours. If I took you down you’d only – 'Rivalry between fictional private detectives and police goes back at least to Edgar Allan Poe, in “The Purloined Letter,” and no one has done it better than Stout. Here, though, he does not merely show the private detective getting the better of the exasperated police officer, he flings a direct challenge at unwarranted exercise of police power.
“`I shall sign no statement. I am not obliged to. If you send a man he won’t be admitted. If you have questions, ask them.’”
“As regards the king of kings’ horse, you may know that as I walked along the road in this wood I saw the marks of horseshoes, all equal distances apart. That horse, said I, gallops perfectly. The dust on the trees in this narrow road only seven feet wide brushed off a little right and left three and a half feet from the middle of the road. This horse, said I, has a tail three and half feet long, and its movement left and right has swept away this dust. I saw beneath the trees, which made a cradle five feet high, some leaves newly fallen from the branches, and I recognized that this horse had touched there and was hence fifteen hands high. As regards his bit, it must be of twenty-three carat gold, for he rubbed the studs against a stone which I knew to be a touchstone and tested. From the marks his hoofs made on certain pebbles I knew the horse was shod with eleven scruple silver.”
“I've figured out a way to tell the books I can feel good about reading from the ones I should wean myself from. The test is: can I remember something from the book a month later – or, better, six months or a year on. This is the test I apply to `real' fiction too: surprisingly often, a great book is great because it presents a character, a mood, a facet of society, a predicament that you hadn't thought of before reading the book but that stays with you afterwards. Rabbit Angstrom, Captain Ahab, and Clyde Griffiths (of An American Tragedy), to choose the first three examples that pop into my mind from American fiction.Among the crime novels that Fallows says meet that standard are Janwillem van de Wetering’s early “Amsterdam Cops” books (though he cites an odd reason for liking them, and he misspells van de Wetering’s name), and Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto.
“I say that `genre' fiction, like spy and crime novels, ascends into the `real' fiction category when the world it presents can exert the same tenacious hold on your mind.”
"In [Taylor’s] world, everyone is equally culpable, and Bruen has inverted the focus of his PI’s gaze so that it’s himself he’s investigating, his morality, the part that he plays in creating the kind of world where good, bad and indifferent all jostle for pre-eminence. What Bruen is doing for crime fiction right now is akin to what Camus and Sartre, in their different ways, did for philosophy sixty or seventy years ago – although a more appropriate, Irish, reference would be that of Samuel Beckett."What I find interesting is that Burke's comments distance Jack Taylor from the ranks of middle-aged loner P.I.s, a group about which I have commented from time to time and to which I now realize that Taylor's resemblance may be merely superficial.
"Did (Marc-Antoine), when he came down to the ground floor, commit suicide by hanging in the store? The answer depends on the position of the body when it was discovered. On this chief point, the Calases disagreed, which aggravated the presumption of their guilt. The evening of the 13th, Pierre, pressed by his father, affirmed that the body was stretched out on the floor, the first version and no doubt the truth. Such a position does not exclude the thesis of suicide by hanging, but it accords better with murder by strangulation. Also, the Calases changed their story the next day. ... an acrobatic suicide, but these exist.With the scene thus set, allies of the Calas family called in Voltaire, who took the case and solved it in three months, eventually winning a posthumous exoneration for Calas and a royal pension for his family. What most impressed this crime-fiction reader, though, was the introduction's readiness to cast the story in detective-story terms, and this from an academic.
"The investigator, David de Beaudrigue, was no Maigret, much less a Sherlock Holmes; He failed to follow tracks that might have led to the truth. In the afternoon, Marc-Antoine had exchanged some silver for [gold] louis d'or for his father's account. These louis d'or were never found. What became of them? Beaudrigue never asked that question. Did Marc-Antoine lose them, gambling or some other way, which would explain his suicide? Did an assassin wait for him in the rear of the house, watching for him to rob him, or for some other reason? (The investigation did not interest itself in this 28-year-old man's relations with women."