This is an occasional feature where a few crime fiction fans answer a question of general interest, and one of us collects the answers. this time it is JJ over at his splendid Invisible Event blog, and I will let him explain:
So head over to his blog to discover the answers…
Very interesting, Moira. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating question to ponder...ReplyDelete
Love to know if you have an answer Margot - could we hope for a blogpost...?Delete
I would say that you are really missing out in the case of Ellin's novels - he did write a lot of thrillers, all of a certain type, and if they are not your bag, fair enough. But he also wrote some sensational stand-alone mysteries completely outside of these, most notable: DREADFUL SUMMIT, THE KEY TO NICHOLAS STREET, THE EIGHT CIRCLE and MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL - I heartily recommend all of these are exciting departures in the crime genre that are superbly written and truly worthy of your time. I previously reviewed a couple of them here: https://bloodymurder.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/e-is-for-stanley-ellin/ReplyDelete
Nope, you don't catch me like that! I have read ALL of those books and didn't like them particularly! I still can visualize my thin green and white decorated Penguins of them - though I think I got rid of them a while back. He was so funny in the stories, and so lacking in humour in the novels...Delete
Simon Bucher-Jones. Not an author you're particularly likely to read, but when I was in University, I read through lots and lots of Doctor Who spin-off books - you had to read them in sequence, good and bad authors alike, and I always went "oh no" when coming up to a Simon Bucher-Jones book.ReplyDelete
But suddenly - Grimm Reality - I was dreading it, and instead, it was this absolutely fantastic book set in a world that followed the rules of fairy tales. I was prepared to hate it, as I had disliked everything else he had written, but to this day, even though I've forgotten so many of the others, I remember Grimm Reality as being so much fun that I couldn't believe he had written it. Then it was back to business as usual with the next SBJ book.
I guess that's the very definition of what the question was looking for.
There must be others - let me think about it. I detested/dismissed what else I read of Henry James, but I thought The Aspern Papers/The Turn of the Screw were amazing.
And I'm still writing so you never know the might be another good one, or you could give proper credit to my co-writer on Grimm Reality, Kelly Hale and read some of her excellent other work.Delete
Daniel thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed that book, which does sound good.Delete
And Simon, thanks for visiting and for taking the comments in a gracious spirit!
I for one am certainly going to try to read Grimm Reality.
I don't think it was that they were actively bad, it was just that I really couldn't get into them - there were quite a few authors who I really only read just because it was an ongoing Doctor Who story/narrative, and there were some who were consistently hard-to-read to the extent that I would skip from Doctor scene to Doctor scene just to get through them. I am actually not a sci-fi fan, which is probably why I struggled. That's why Grimm Reality came as such a nice shock, and it is one of the very few books that has endured in my memory.Delete
Well that's a partial step back for Simon's benefit! I am determined to read this book now, I have ordered it...Delete
Let me know what you think, but remember it might be Kelly hale who wrote the good bits.Delete
And you can find free short-stories, poems, songs and oddments at www.simonbjones.blogspot.comDelete
Thanks for info, Simon, and it is on its way to me. What are you writing now?Delete
Interesting that you preferred the Hitchcock version of "Strangers on a train", which had a good dollop of Edmund Crispin's "Moving toyshop" in it. I think that's why I've always preferred the film to the book. https://the-bookhound.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/moving-toyshop-strangers-on-train.html.ReplyDelete
Thanks Margaret, and your blogpost is fascinating and highly recommended - I hadn't ever made that connection myself, but like all the best discoveries it seems obvious once it's pointed out! For anyone checking it out - take the final full stop off the link Margaret gives above (her punctuation is too good!)Delete
Pretty much agree with you as regards Highsmith. I hope that I can appreciate good writing,and she is a good writer, but there's something so coldly unpleasant about her work that I can't really get much enjoyment from it. The central idea of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is beautiful, and has been ripped off countless times, but it seems to me that it requires one to have s degree of synpathy towards the characters that Highsmith is not interested or capable of supplying.ReplyDelete
As regards the 'book that you wish a particular author hadn't written' it has to be Sayers' FIVE RED HERRINGS. She seemed so determined to make it a proper detective story that she removed all of the stuff that I normally enjoy. It's all alibis and railway timetables and tedium. Oddly, the Ian Carmichael TV version from the early '70s is one of my favourites from that series. The writer/actors/director obviously understood that it needed a lot of work to make it work, and put in all the character stuff missing from teh book.
Yes, 'coldly unpleasant' is the perfect description of Highsmith: there's a complete lack of heart.Delete
And yes, Five Red Herrings I never re-read - though would also put Documents in the Case in that category. I watched the TV series when it first came out, now you have tempted me to try to find it again.
I have yet to read anything by Highsmith, but I will be trying several of her books (someday). Interesting points from all of the contributors.ReplyDelete
Mmm. Good luck with that! I hope you might enjoy them more than I did. It is fun finding out other people's answers...Delete
By reading the linked posts, I see how much I've missed. Maybe living in the States, I just never saw many of these authors and books. Of course, I started in my teens reading about Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe. I read a few Agatha Christie (enough said; her bigotry got to me at age 19), and a book by Josephine Tey and one by Dorothy Sayers.ReplyDelete
But I was in high school and was reading a lot of non-mysteries for school and for myself. Then I went to college and somehow reading for pleasure went out the window for years.
And then the women's movement happened and V.I. Warshawski, Sharon McCone and Kinsey Millhone were solving cases and a lot of women writers were publishing books that were not mysteries. And I had so much to read of U.S. women writers coming at me from all directions.
And then about 10 years ago I got back into reading mysteries due to the Internet and these fantastic blogs centered on crime fiction. That restarted me on reading mysteries, but mostly contemporary, few historical or Golden Age.
So I can't really answer those questions in relation to Golden Age crime fiction, haven't read enough of it to qualify for this exam. But it's interesting to ponder.
Well, more fun questions than an exam! I enjoy thinking about them and trying to get a good answer. I bet some answers will pop into your head in the future without your having to think too hard...Delete
I should have put quotes marks around "exam," as it was an intentional bit of humor.ReplyDelete
Of course, I should have known!Delete
Stephen Bochco - Death by Hollywood would be my pick.ReplyDelete
Interesting - I'll have to look that one up.Delete
If it's Golden Age, I'm out of the running. If not, I'd say Harper Lee wrote only one good book.ReplyDelete
No, doesn't have to be Golden Age, or crime at all.Delete
And I'd have to agree with you about Harper Lee.
Since it's not Golden Age or crime-restricted, I may have some other ideas.ReplyDelete
Did you read "The Chalk Pit" yet by Elly Griffiths? It's great. I'm worried since the ending has a few cliffhangers, that the author will resolve them -- and then, no more Ruth Galloway. And I, along with other fans, will be demanding more books.
Also, as an aside, I am sick about the unnecessary deaths, injuries and dislocation of so many people in that terrible fire. Over here, we are thinking about the victims and survivors and hoping they are all given housing and are compensated and a lot more.
I want Ruth Galloway to go on forever.Delete
The tower block fire is beyond horror, beyond our imagination: everyone's worst nightmare. The local community has really stepped up - as you say, we can hope the authorities will do their share.
Yes, in general, I find that regular people are extremely helpful, caring and generous when there is a disaster. Apparently, so many people gave donations that there was a storage problem.ReplyDelete
However, it's the politicians who should take the blame. I just read in the Guardian that ministers ignored warnings about the safety problems in that building. Also, the residents and community said the building was a "fire trap" for years. Apparently, nothing was done.
I hope Jeremy Corbyn and others in the Labour Party step up to the plate and insist on remedies for the victims and survivors, for housing, etc. And that the Parliament agrees on that assistance.
indeed. It is shocking that the residents were ignored for so long.Delete
And the only comfort is in how well the community has responded - awe-inspiring sight of donations and people helping. Yes, they are telling people now not to bring perishables as they have too much.
I see that the government is finding housing for people. I like that Corbyn said that unoccupied luxury housing in Kensington should be given to those made homeless by the fire. I see that some of that is happening.ReplyDelete
I'm glad there have been all sorts of protests going on. I think that May and the others in her government are feeling the "heat" on this terrible and preventable tragedy due to years of neglect and worse.
I have been crying over the victims. A 24-year-old woman, Kadija Saye, an artist of Gambian heritage, was mentioned in Wednesday's New York Times, as her photos are being shown in an exhibit in England.
And then I read a list of other victims who were in their 30s, some just visiting parents.
And from what I read the non-combustible cladding would only have cost $5,160, a pittance.
I see an official in the Kensington Council had to resign. I hope a lot of officials take the blame and that they are held to account.
The Guardian has written about years of neglect and ignoring residents' complaints of fire hazards, calling Grenfell Tower a "firetrap."
Indeed, the whole thing is shocking and beyond belief, because it sounds so avoidable. Is it naïve of us to believe that all outside building materials would be fire-resistant? How COULD you build a tall building and not take that into account.Delete
As in so many tragedies, we are seeing the worst of people and systems, but also the best as the community comes forward to help.
Yes. The best comes out in people. People came from all over Britain with supplies and solidarity -- and so much was brought there was not enough storage space! A good thing.ReplyDelete
Also, solidarity with immigrants and other people of color.
I have read no sprinklers, no alarms, only one exit, no fire escapes. Residents warned it was a fire trap. Most opposed the renovations with that dangerous cladding.
So now many other buildings have failed inspections and have that combustible cladding. And people are being evacuated.
I hope there's decent, nearby housing for everyone who id displaced.
They are having a hard job finding suitable accommodation for everyone, both short-term and long-term, but have tried to guarantee it will be nearby. My daughter is a journalist working in London, with a great interest in housing, and has written a number of pieces on the story of the fire and the aftermath.Delete
Oh, really. I'd love to read her articles. Are they posted? I've been following this and written some political articles about it, but I'm reading whatever I see.ReplyDelete
I see Arconic announced it would stop making that cladding; it took so many deaths to cause that. And I read that it only cost about %6,377 more to have purchased the non-combustible type. Incredible. No regard for human life.
I have read that the government bought 68 apartments in Kensington Row complex for survivors. One newspaper article said they were in the "affordable housing" section, but we can't find further information about that.
This disaster really put the government in a bind. The world was looking on with anger and disbelief.
I know, the story never gets more shocking - everything that comes out makes it worse.Delete
I am trying to find links to my daughter's pieces, will email you.