D isdain for genre —specifically crime fiction, for the purposes of this essay—is by no means exclusively Canadian, but it does occasionally feel like a local specialty. So, one wonders, is there a Canadian school of crime fiction?
Crimson Shore (Pendergast #15)
Is it markedly different from, say, Tasmanian crime fiction? And are the ghetto walls higher here than they are elsewhere? Every literary culture has a crime genre, and no two are precisely the same. They are major cultural exports that, despite vast international readership, effectively parse the local id.
No argument here: genre is calibrated differently from literature. While the latter is at best a sublime communion between writer and reader—a fathomless one-on-one engagement through language—genre is rather a way of sharing atavistic, universal fears through rigid formula.
Crime books have a singular function, to thrill, and they are sold by the ton at airports because they maintain their relevance across cultures and borders. They are also, necessarily, about place.
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Most unfold in contained settings, and thus become credibly national, filtering subconscious concerns through a parochial scrim. In Canada, that conversation resembles a muted argument over the last cruller in a Regina Tim Hortons. The frontier writing period—roughly to —was followed by the vibrancy of the interwar years, when the country was united by a single pastime: reading. Not incidentally, as Canada was defining its borders and its putative identity, there was a roaring trade in genre.
Bristling with Presbyterian rectitude, these stories differed from American frontier pulp because Canadian expansion was driven by the law, not by an effort to escape from it. The Mountie—that abiding frontier icon—arrived first, knitting the country from east to west, fort to fort. Less Davy Crockett or Billy the Kid than a faceless, nameless concept, the Scarlet Rider represented universal moral order; the North was not a place where one found freedom, in the American sense of the term, but rather redemption. These various shenanigans took place in a brumal dominion that slaughtered its inhabitants with the gleeful blood lust of Hannibal Lecter.
Weather—very bad weather—was the abiding villain. So far, so CanLit. Geographical and meteorological determinism are the maple syrup and back bacon of our literary criticism. His stories form a portrait of a growing middle class struggling to establish itself in the New World. Our pop writers defined an urban Canada before Canadians were sure one existed.
In Peril's Way
Where does one find this treasure trove of Canadiana, you ask? This leaves us dangerously adrift from what our forebears were doing and thinking as this country took shape, and opens a yawning cultural gap that contributes to, among other things, our unhealthy obsession with rural historical fiction marinated in poetics. Most Canadian crime writers have learned not to bother filling out grant applications, a discipline at which our literary novelists are preternaturally adept. Thus began a process that effectively choked off a genuinely popular form of popular culture.
Canadians had to wait until for the first modern, local crime novel, one that exemplified how, as the culture evolved, Canadians were defining themselves by what they were not. Sashi Burgette vanished three years ago on her way to school. The police dismiss the call as a cruel hoax. The State Attorney refuses to consider the new evidence, insisting the case is closed. The governor has already signed the death warrant. An innocent man may be executed and time is running out—unless his lawyers can locate Sashi. A man of principle who believes in justice, Jack jumps into the investigation.
But the deeper he digs the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Not the victim. Not her alleged killer. As their gut-wrenching and hopelessly conflicting version of events unfolds in a Miami courtroom, it becomes clear there is something even more difficult to find than a long-missing girl.
Robinson, but he pulls it off quite well. It never feels artificial. He gets it right, but he does keep some of his Britishness in his writing. He tones down the gore, and keeps the characters more civilized.
Since this is a stalker type story, it has many things that you have seen before. There are a series of letters written by the stalker. Some of the chapters are the first person thoughts of the stalker.
The stalker wants to impress Sarah, so he sets up a scene near her house. That sort of stuff. This was an easy book to read. I enjoyed it. I liked Sarah and Arvo. It could have been a decent start to a series, but was probably more of an experiment for Mr. He was sticking his toe into the American book market. After all he had DCI Banks. If you feel like a mild psychological thriller set in sunny LA, give it a try. Originally published in , No Cure for Love is being reissued this year, with an introduction by Michael Connelly. Sarah Broughton has come a long way.
She lives in a beautiful California beach house. No need for anyone to know about that. And then she finds that name inscribed in the sand near her home — next to a body. Peter Robinson is the bestselling author of the Inspector Banks series, two short-story collections, and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies worldwide.
Why should you read this book? I suppose if you have read the previous 17 books in this series, you probably will be ready for number If you are like me, and have never even heard of Inspector Ian Rutledge, you could give this book a shot, if you are a fan of mysteries that are set in Great Britain just after Word War I. The story just kind of meanders along, painting a picture of a time long ago, where everything moved more slowly, but some people still wanted to kill other people. The reasons were there and, I guess they were logical, but I found it hard to believe that everything had to be so mysterious.
It just seemed strange that everyone had to lie, or tell their own version of the truth. Not very realistic. Your experience may be different from mine. As I was reading this book, I wondered if any of my friends from Great Britain have read any of the books in this series. If you have, let me know if you like this series, and if it strikes an authentic chord with you.
On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case. However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol.
With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate. Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels.
A mother and son writing team, they live on the East Coast. I was a little bit uncomfortable reading a novel where the main character, Lacey Mills. She is thinking about getting her feet wet, but not sure that she is really ready to get involved with anyone quite yet. She does end up meeting a beautiful young web designer, Alison Rhodes. Ali and Lacey hit it off and before too long, they end up in bed.
For the most part, Ms. DiCeglio does a good job of bringing Lacey to life. She seems pretty lifelike, just, in my opinion, a bit too emotional to be a cop.
It seems like her feelings would interfere with her job. They seem to cloud her judgement at a few crucial moments in this book. She has a hard shell act, but crumbles rather easily. I still liked her and wanted her to get though everything. Sight Lines is a fast-paced, rather twisty, mystery. I did like some of the tender scenes that took place between Lacey and Ali, and also between Lacey and Bishop, her boss. Overall I enjoyed the story, even though it was a new experience for me. I think that the target audience for this book is the young, hip, female reader, who is looking for a mystery with a romantic twist.