Crime fiction: good things in store…

October 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm (books, Mystery fiction)

Despite my panic upon finishing Peter Lovesey’s superb Skeleton Hill, I am actually quite sanguine with regard to new mysteries by some of my favorite authors. Here are two that are already on my night table: crowd pix .  I’ve just begun Alone in the Crowd and am enjoying it, although it is not a quick read.  I don’t remember noting this in previous novels in this series, but this one, at least, contains significantly more interior monologue and correspondingly less dialogue than I usually encounter in crime fiction. These are interesting minds whose ruminations Garcia-Roza makes us privy to; primarily, those of Inspector Espinosa and of Hugo Breno, the man “suspected of being a suspect.” Not surprising that this author renders mental and emotional states so vividly: he holds doctorates in psychology and philosophy and taught these subjects for thirty-three years at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro.

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Espinosa is a bookaholic. Here’s how his home library is set up:

“…Espinosa used what he called provisional shelving: he’d chosen the longest wall in the room and started piling his books up there, from the floor up, one row of books standing up, upon which he’d deposited a sequence of books lying flat, and so on and so forth, in a rising construction whose limit would obviously be the ceiling. That’s what he started calling his ‘shelfless shelving’ or ‘shelving in the purest state’ or ‘a shelf made only out of books,’ and now, a few decades on, it took up the entire wall of the living room and was more than six feet tall…nad hadn’t fallen over once.

Ah, yes – some of us know this syndrome only too well!

Here’s an interview with Garcia-Roza that appeared several years ago in the New York Times.


As for Bill James, his Harpur & Iles novels are filled with razor sharp dialogue, much of which doesn’t resemble in any way language that you’d recognize from your own everyday life. Highly idiosyncratic vocabulary alternates with savage profanity; the effect is  at times hilarious, at other times shocking. No one’s sensibilities are spared; the reader – at least, this reader – is never bored. One of my favorite locutions is one that Colin Harpur came up with in The Girl with the Long Back, where he described Desmond Iles as “a malevolent, pirouetting, egomaniac vandal.”

lolita I found a fascinating (and disturbing) article about  the second book in this series on D.G. Myers’s  Commonplace Blog. I read The Lolita Man some time ago but Myers’s thoughtful commentary makes me want to revisit it.


serpent In addition to the above two, I’m looking forward to the fourth entry in the Lake District series by Martin Edwards.  The Serpent Pool is due out in the U.S. in January. (Dancing for the Hangman, a standalone, is due out in December. Click here to see the enthusiastic response of British readers to Edwards’s fictional treatment of the notorious Crippen case.)

Here’s a video clip in which Edwards talks about the third Lake District book, The Arsenic Labyrinth:

These novels have a wonderful sense of place and are beautifully written. I highly recommend them.


malice Vividly drawn (and exceptionally appealing) characters are among the chief pleasures of Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther novels. The Price of Malice is the twentieth entry in this fine series.

Here’s Mayor being interviewed by Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ:


Here is number twenty-three in Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series:  fugue (I’m excluding two short story collections from this tally.) I’ve written in prior posts about my deep respect and affection for this author and his works.

Reginald Hill

Reginald Hill


Another great favorite is Alexander McCall Smith. I reaped so many riches from the last two Isabel Dalhousie novels – The Careful Use of Compliments and The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday – that I’m not sure my teeming brain has room for: gratitude . Not to worry – I shall read it  and gladly make available any room that’s needed to accommodate the gifts that will undoubtedly be bestowed in this sixth series entry.

As for the Number One Ladies Detective novels, I tend to listen to, rather than read, these, mainly because of the lovely intonation of South African born actress Lisette Lecat. The latest, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, was predictably delightful.  teatime

Click here; then scroll down to Barnes & Noble Studio to hear Alexander McCall Smith talk about his writing life.


Finally, Ruth Rendell’s twenty-second entry in the Reginald Wexford series of procedurals:  monster. Here’s a recent video in which Rendell discusses the genesis of this series and the ways in which it has evolved over the years:

Amazon gives the publication date of The Monster in the Box as tomorrow – Tuesday  October 13. What joy!

How do I love thee, Reg Wexford; let me count the ways…

George Baker as Inspector Reginald Wexford

George Baker as Inspector Reginald Wexford

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