Sunday, October 19, 2008

Detectives and mysteries

Suddenly I feel an urge, after a discussion on another forum, to talk about detective and mystery writers.

I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I have been for years. And he was best portrayed as I'm sure we all agree by Jeremy Brett.
Caleb Carr's Doctor Kreizler of two novels is also a favourite.Not forgetting of course that Carr recently wrote a Sherlock Holmes novel, The Italian Secretary, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Fans of both Doyle & Carr are now of course calling for Carr to invite Holmes to Gotham (New York for those of you not familiar with the old nickname for that city) to work with Kreizler or the Dr. to London to work with Holmes.
I also enjoyed Laurie R King's interpretations of Holmes in the first couple of decades of the 20th C as seen through the eyes of Holmes' young American wife Mary Russell in the Mary Russell Mysteries series. The only one that dragged and was altogether unsatisfactory was "Locked Rooms". All the others, which I've read, were superb.
Ian Rankin's John Rebus is my current favourite contemporary detective, mostly operating in Edinburgh, in the 21st C.
Years ago of course I read many of Colin Dexter's excellent Inspector Morse novels.
Another favourite contemporary detective is Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks. Although Banks' novels can drag a little bit too.
The hard-boiled American stuff has never appealed to me nor the splatter type detective/CSI stuff.
Reginald Hill and PD James were for me just too slow, too old fashioned and too boring.
Minette Walters, Elizabeth George and Caroline Graham all seem to deal more in tweedy quaint English countryside murder (a la some of Agatha Christie's work) rather than real police work. The Midsomer Murders are more farce than detective series, as far as I'm concerned.

But by far and away my most favourite detective of all time, more so than Rebus, Holmes and Morse is Andrew Martin's Jim Stringer- railway detective. Read them in order starting with The Necropolis Railway (which really existed- running from Waterloo Station to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey) and just soak up the ambience he creates of steam railways and crime and England in the golden years before the Great War.

You won't regret it I promise you.