Reading Ngaio Marsh

I’ve been having a bit of a reading splurge on Ngaio Marsh recently; partly that’s because I seem to have overdosed on SF, and partly I’ve been looking at culling some of the contents of my book shelves. 

Given that I haven’t read most of them for fifteen or more years, Marsh seemed to be an obvious choice, and a few of her earlier, slighter stories have indeed ended up on amazon.

But some have yielded little gems of underwriting which my younger self didn’t really appreciate. A lot of the stories are far more worldly than contemporaries such as Christie or Allingham, and the characters more finely drawn.  I’m finding myself reluctant to sell too many of them.

Damn – I’ll have to look for another author to cull….

• July 4th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Henning Mankell & the World Cup

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m trying to justify watching football on the tv by writing a blog — after all, if I’m writing a blog, it’s not really goofing off is it?

I’ve spent the morning writing my daily 1400 words, which I finished by about 12 o’clock, before settling down with Henning Mankell’s Firewall, which may or may not be his last Kurt Wallender novel. For those of you who only know the dyspeptic, diabetic detective by the anaemic BBC adaptations featuring Kenneth Branagh, which are not a patch on the original Swedish episodes often shown on BBC4, the cycle of ten or a dozen novels are perhaps the most grounded narratives in the detective genre. At the risk of sounding pretentious, they chart the moral disintegration of Swedish society in the 1990s through the brutal and often irrational murders that Wallander has to investigate.

Before Firewall, I read Sidetracked, which justifiably won the Crime Writer’s Assosciation’s Gold Dagger Award for Best Novel. Mankell interweaves real world events with the storyline by featuring Sweden’s matches in the 1994 World Cup as part of the sub-plot and setting. It’s part of a complex set of plot threads that at times sidetrack the reader as effectively as they do Wallander’s investigation.  

Reading Mankell teaches one that it’s the little touches that give a narrative its sense of reality. Years ago, Brian Aldiss began to work himself, his friends and family into the narrative, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. I’m tempted to try the same technique in future, maybe featuring a writer who blogs during the 2010 World Cup as part of the sub-plot….

But for now it’s back to the real World Cup. I’ll finish Firewall between the two matches.

• July 3rd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Ten Things I Learned This Week

Want to know really useful stuff, like the plural of mongoose and the boiling point of money? Click here.

• February 26th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Final Countdown

…has begun to the event we’ve sub-titled ‘Bring Your Daughters To The Slaughter.’ It’s official title is ‘Murder on the Dance Floor,’ and it’s a weird hybrid of a 70s disco crossed with a murder mystery.  You can read more about what’s been going on in the run-up to it at the usual location.

• February 11th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0