Sunday, November 30, 2008

Of Mysteries and the Old Country

Sadly, in my recent night of little sleep, I finished Deborah Crombie's, Water Like a Stone. Although, it's only the penultimate (at the moment) episode of her Kincaid/James series, I had already recently read her most recent tome, Where Memories Lie. Aside from her plots and writing ability, one thing I do like about the Kincaid/James series is that the two protagonists are two relatively normal and decent people in a good relationship. They're not quite as dysfunctional or offbeat as many mystery heroes.

Except for the most recent hot-off-the press release of All the Colours of Darkness, by Peter Robinson, I am also current with Inspector Banks. I imagine that I'll be getting hold of that one soon, but then what? It's not as though I can readily turn to another fave, Elizabeth George, because I've already read her latest Thomas Lynley novel, Careless in Red. Sigh. And I think that Martha Grimes is turning away from her Richard Jury series; at least she's going in other directions lately.

I know there are other series out there, such as Ruth Rendell's, Inspector Wexford, but I tend to lose track of where I am with her as every second novel is a non-Wexford. She's a great writer, perhaps the best of the lot, but I find her non-Wexford novels a bit dark and don't prefer them. And don't tell me about PD James' Inspector Dalgleish either because, aside from her latest, The Private Patient, I've also been there and done that. Double sigh. I've recently mentioned Rhys Bowen and especially her Evan Evans character, so perhaps I can excavate that mine for awhile, but beyond that I'm ever so slightly stuck as I'm not a huge fan of Reginald Hill or Ian Rankin. They're just okay for me (to quote my least favourite America Idol judge).

There is something strange about the first four authors that I mentioned: Crombie, George, Grimes, and Robinson. Except for Robinson, they're all Americans who have chosen to stage their mysteries in what my English grandmother used to call "The Old Country," which was a confusing expression to me when I was a kid. Even Peter Robinson is or was an expat Brit living in Canada although he now spends part of the year back in Yorkshire. Nevertheless, while he had primarily resided in Canada, he has placed Inspector banks firmly in Yorkshire. It makes me wonder if these authors have also appeal to those true Brits on the other side of the pond or if they prefer genuine British authors? Perhaps the authors that I have mentioned write in a manner more appealing to us colonials?

Somehow, both to me and these authors, mysteries set in The Old Country seem to work better than the typical American style mystery where a lone hero tends to drink too much and live out of seedy motel rooms while s/he single-handedly brings the perps to justice in an almost super heroic way. However, I've recently mentioned Canadian, Louise Penny, who is different: a Canadian who writes in a Canadian setting and does it quite well. Her Inspector Gamache who always seems to end up in the charming hamlet of Three Pines, has an old world charm and works with a competent team and is not exactly John Wayne riding into town on a white horse to make everything right again all on his own.

The point of all this? Very little. I have nothing to read!! Help!!!


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Well, you sure are a fan of the mystery genre.
You could research some of the Canadian writers in this area

How about going back and reading Hugh Garner's "Cabbagetown" during the last Depression. A young writers is Jon Evans who travels the World and write adventure in far off lands. Trevor Ferguson might be interesting. He has nine novels to his credit.

I am sure you will find something soon.

Simply Coll said...

I hate it when I don't have a book on the go. Canada Reads has recently announced the contenders for its annual contest to choose a single book that all Canadians would enjoy reading. They are:

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (La grosse femme d'à côté est enceinte ) by Michel Tremblay, translated by Sheila Fischman
Fruit by Brian Francis

These books may not fall under the category of British Mysteries but they may be worth looking at.

Mary said...

I'm not sure if you like reading about small town life, but this is a book by a Canadian author that you might consider.

Crooked Lake by Nelson Brunanski (Caronel Publishing)

Hope this helps. I hate it when I have nothing to read. Have you checked out the library.

Thanks so much for your kind words on the tribute to Aunt May. I appreciate your support more than you know.

Blessings for a great week. I hope you find something good to read. If so, be sure to let us know.


Woman in a Window said...

I like how you wended this back to a solitary Canadian writing it well.

As to what to read, um, ya, I hear there are some good bloggers out there. (D'oh! I wish I could get some balance here. I'm missing a good developed read in my brain.)

Lorna said...

Since we seem to read the same authors---I gave up on Martha Grimes too, I think you might like Charles Todd---his (English) series, best read in order, is well-written, sympathetic to the central character, a former police detective come back from the Front,and very rich in detail about the 1st World War. I love them, and have read each of them twice.

I also like Julia Spencer-Fleming's novels about a woman Episcopal priest, struggling with faith and mystery, living in the northern states.

Janet said...

One of the things I did while on blog hiatus was to delve into my Mom's stash of mysteries (my goal is to read all of them and see which ones I need to keep). I've been through Leo Bruce's series with Carolus Deene and Nicholas Blake's series with Nigel Strangeways (both set in England), and Elizabeth Daly's Henry Gamadge (set in New York). All take place around World War II.
I read Martha Grimes, too, awhile back, but I don't think I've picked up the latest ones. Mom got a bit outdone with her and said she wanted to strangle Jury for being obtuse. Same goes for me with Adam Dalgleish. The last few I wanted to throw him in the Thames after the victims.
Right now I'm reading Carolyn Hart, who I'm not sure I like. The plots are OK and I like most of her regular characters, except the main protagonist, who just needs a spanking. And she has this annoying affectation of mentioning multiple authors and books on every other page. I'm not sure if I find it annoying because I think she's showing off how many mysteries she's read, or because I recognize most of the names and think perhaps I myself have read way too many mysteries. And now this comment is way too long. I generally prefer British mysteries, any time period (Brother Cadfael comes to mind). I'll try to come up with some more names for you.

Janet said...

Oh, JJ Marric (a pen name for John Creasy) and the Gideon series. I liked Gideon a lot.