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Malingering Mavericks of Murder Monday

It's been a low-murder couple of weeks here. I started reading The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen, based on a rec from one of my customers. So far it hasn't made much of an impression, except that the prose is painfully “translated,” – that is, a little too generic and just slightly off-idiom. It's hard to tell how much of the problem is with the translation and how much is part of the original text. The introductory conversations establishing the character of Carl Mørk and the political situation of the police department are so straightforward and no-frills that the straightforwardness is entertaining in its own right, a strong but flavorless distillation of police-fiction clichés:

“. . .[T]his is a hell of a time for Carl Mørk to rejoin the team and monopolize four of our very best detectives. People are complaining about him, and who do you think they're complaining to?” He jabbed at his chest, as if he were the only one who had to listen to people's shit.

“He shows up hours late,” he went on. “Rides his staff hard, rummages around with the cases, and refuses to return phone calls. His office is utter chaos, and you won't believe this, but they called from the forensics lab to bitch about a phone conversation with him. The boys from forensics – can you believe it? It takes a lot to aggravate those guys. We need to do something about Carl, Marcus, regardless of what he's been through. . . He's not suited to working here; we're too dependent on each other. Carl was hopeless as a colleague from day one. Why did you ever bring him downtown from Bellahøj?”

Markus fixed his eyes on Bjørn. “He was and is an outstanding detective, Lars. That's why.”

I never can decide whether I'm on the outs with the “genius detective is also most annoying man in four counties” trope or if I love it, and I think the only true answer is “it depends.” On what? It just depends. This one could be really great, despite some awkwardness in the prose, or it could be so generic it's nonexistent, but it's too soon to tell.

Question for the better-informed: Are there genius detectives who are also the most annoying woman in four counties? Or any geographical range? There was creepy, cackling Mrs. Bradley in Speedy Death (and a bunch of other books I haven't read yet) – who else is difficult to work with, but the best at what they do?

In other news, I stopped by the library book sale and bought a stack of books – most of them for the store, but a few for me to read first. Some Ngaio Marsh and Josephine Tey, because I like to keep the shelves stocked with my old-school murder faves even if no one else is interested (there is one Ngaio Marsh fan who comes in occasionally; for all I know we're just buying and selling each others books in an endless loop) – also an earlyish P. D. James and a Ruth Rendell, and Plain Murder by C. S. Forester, author of the Hornblower books.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 25th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
Are there genius detectives who are also the most annoying woman in four counties? Or any geographical range?

I'm fairly sure Agatha Raisin would be a contender, but I'm not sure she's a genius, which means she's just annoying, which is less fun. To be fair, I fail to read murder mysteries if they weren't published at least 50 years ago and/or set more than 50 years ago, so I'm not really in a position to say.

On a side note, I came across this the other day, because I was looking at my Ngaio Marsh books and realised that her final novel was dedicated to James Laurenson, who is an actor I've watched in quite a few old telly things. (It turns out he's from NZ and was once Macbeth in one of Ngaio Marsh's productions, hence the dedication.)
Jul. 25th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
I think a non-genius who gets the job done would also be fine!

Also, what a great article! <3 Do you know if the George Baker who plays Rory in the TV2 adaptation is the same George Baker who was Tiberius in I, Claudius? (Poor Tiberius. I kept rooting for him to pull himself together, but he never did, because no one is allowed to be happy in I, Claudius except maybe that snake)

Also, I didn't know that Ngaio Marsh was also a painter, though I should have guessed from the way she writes about painting. Why so multitalented??
Jul. 25th, 2016 08:31 pm (UTC)
I thought you would like it. I hadn't seen it before - I only found it because I was trying to see if it really was the same James Laurenson and wiki led me there.

I hadn't heard about the TV2 productions, but given the timing I assumed it was that George Baker & checking IMBD says that it was indeed. (IMBD also tells me that two Marshes were dramatised in the 60s as part of one of the endless anthology shows, this time Detective, with two more Alleyns, Michael Allinson and Geoffrey Keen, who I don't know off the top of my head.)
Jul. 25th, 2016 09:58 pm (UTC)
What a fascinating article! Thank you for sharing the link.
Jul. 26th, 2016 04:16 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! :-)
Aug. 2nd, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
PS. Would you mind if I friended you? We seem to keep meeting here and have a few interests in common. I keep thinking I should ask and then get shy, so I don't. However, at the moment, I seem to post quite randomly about fannish things, very old British TV and film or family history or who knows what, so feel free to not friend me as you choose. :-)
Aug. 3rd, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Go for it! I love new friends :)
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:53 am (UTC)
Jul. 26th, 2016 09:09 am (UTC)
Not sure what to make of annoying geniuses, other than Sherlock is the one and only for me - and the most silly I will put up with!!

Jul. 29th, 2016 04:19 pm (UTC)
That's probably a reasonable line to draw. But what about the Doctor? Not a detective, but certainly prone to silliness, and a kind of genius? A genius of FAILURE, sometimes, but he always manages to talk his way into a resolution by the end of the episode/serial/other arbitrary time limit.

Edited at 2016-07-29 04:20 pm (UTC)
Jul. 30th, 2016 07:23 am (UTC)
He always gets a pass, lol!! His annoying is different, anyhow. Tis usually his cluelessness that gets me! *Grins* But he is always adorable. You've got me on this one! :D
Jul. 27th, 2016 12:37 pm (UTC)
I wish I could think of some annoying women genius detectives now. I've read few female noir gumshoes, but an annoying Sherlock type would not go amiss.

for all I know we're just buying and selling each others books in an endless loop

This sounds like an excellent set-up for a stage play or a romcom.
Jul. 29th, 2016 04:32 pm (UTC)
I loved Jessica Jones with a great love (the TV version; I haven't read the comics) and would probably like to read some non-superpowered female noir detectives - any recommendations?

This sounds like an excellent set-up for a stage play or a romcom.

It does, doesn't it? If you have any romcom skill of your own, please feel free to use it.
Jul. 30th, 2016 05:12 am (UTC)
The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter not only is about a hardboiled female detective - she's also a lesbian, and the story is told in blank verse! Really it is an excellent book, if you can find it bc did I mention it is Australian. Haha.

Sean Stewart's Passion Play had a pretty good go at inverting the usual noir gender roles. There's some sff/dystopic elements to this one but it's not superpowered.

Sara Paretsky's Warshawski is probably the most iconic and famous woman gumshoe but tbh it's been so many years since I read any of those books, so I can't say for sure if they are any good? I remember they got really repetitive fast. Probably worth reading one for the experience.

Not detective stories but in terms of playing with ideas of noir and the femme fatale - I enjoyed Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and I thought Queenpin by Megan Abbott had some interesting ideas even if it didn't stick the landing.

If you have any romcom skill of your own

Ahahaha. Thank you for the kind thought but no... I wish. :)
Jul. 30th, 2016 02:18 pm (UTC)
The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter not only is about a hardboiled female detective - she's also a lesbian, and the story is told in blank verse!

WHAT. It's like someone put all my book daydreams in a bucket and dumped them at my feet! congratulations, you have activated my "automatic order" reflex (someone really should take away my amazon account for my own good).

Passion Play is now on my non-automatic to-read list, and I'm going to give Sara Paretsky another try sometime soon - I got bored with the first chapter of the one I tried to read, but it's possible my mind was just elsewhere.

I wish I had even a tiny sliver of romcom skill. I like romcoms so much in theory. :|
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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