Posts tagged ‘Jo Nesbo’

April 27, 2014

My Criminal World: Henry Sutton

by Andre

Henry Sutton MY CRIMINAL WORLDTake pity on the struggling, middle-aged crime writer. In the case of David Slavitt, his sales are nothing to shout about, younger rivals are coming up with ever more grisly plots, and his career-focused, academic wife doesn’t really think that working from home is a full-time job. And she might be having an affair. As a confessional account of the life of a crime writer, this novel is indispensable. But our fictional, rather ineffectual author doesn’t seem quite ready to kill off his wife’s academic colleagues who sneer at the detective novel; the story’s crime element is rather more subtle and depends on the blurring of fiction and reality as Slavitt gets further into his latest book.

As the police procedural he’s writing takes shape – My Criminal World’s chapters alternate between Slavitt’s humdrum life and his grisly book – he keeps spying a shadowy figure on the street and begins to believe the life he’s created with his wife and young children in suburban Norfolk is under threat. Perhaps he has a love rival ready to oust him, or maybe the danger is something that his subconscious has invented as some kind of psychological response to the travails of the mid-list author.

There are plenty of neat in-jokes in My Criminal World, including the unaccountable popularity of Slavitt in Latvia, where Sutton has also enjoyed success. He’s sharp, too, when it comes to lonely, obsessive fans, unglamorous award ceremonies and bullying agents. It’s a clever, captivating novel that will make you feel a little more sympathy towards the nation’s neglected crime writers.

October 21, 2012

Foreign Bodies

by Andre

To echo this week’s triumphant Booker speech by Hilary Mantel, you wait years for a Riverside blog on foreign crime fiction and then two turn up at once. But Radio 4’s scrutiny of European literary detectives in the weeks ahead cannot go unmentioned, and the station’s dramatisation of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo’s series featuring detective Martin Beck is likely to create huge demand for these exemplary crime novels set in Stockholm. Between 1965 and 1975, the husband and wife writing duo published 10 captivating police procedurals that also held up a mirror to Swedish society and clearly influenced fellow Swede Henning Mankell.

The accompanying 15-part series Foreign Bodies is a typically ambitious Radio 4 project. It might have the alarmingly portentous subtitle ‘A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives’ but we should be in safe hands with presenter Mark Lawson, who regularly recommends continental crime writers on Front Row. The series will show how crime fiction reflects society’s tensions across Europe by focusing on popular detectives (Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, Nesbo’s Harry Hole and Camilleri’s Salvo Montalbano) and venerable literary creations such as Maigret and Poirot, as well as introducing genre-bending crime authors Friedrich Durrenmatt and Nicolas Freeling.

The Martin Beck series starts at 2.30pm on 27 October and Foreign Bodies begins on 22 October at 1.45pm (and available on iPlayer Radio).