sábado, outubro 29, 2016

The Lure of Good Crime Fiction: "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" by Michael Connelly

I used to feel that I shouldn't like reading Crime Fiction, like I did in 2014, in what I always remember as my Crime Fiction Year; it was in that year that I sensibly decided that a well written Crime Fiction novel has as much "intrinsic value" as any other book, however much the literary snobs may turn their noses up. Good writing is good writing, whether it's a spy or a SF novel. After 2014 I haven’t read much Crime Fiction. My bad, but as soon as a new Michael Connelly, or Ian Rankin comes out, I’m already moving them to the top of my TBR Pile, like I did with this “The Wrong Side of Goodbye, as I’ll do with “I’ll Rather Be the Devil” by Ian Rankin, coming out on the 1st of November. I love a good Crime Fiction Novel. This is due to my teenage years, when I was reading detective fiction by the bucket-load as if there was no tomorrow (Christie, Sayers, Stout, Allingham, Ambler, Block, P. D. James, Chesterton, Hammett, Simenon, Rendell, Marsh, Innes, Chandler, Dürrenmatt, Westlake, Camilleri, Highsmith, Burke, Thomson, Higgins, Crais, Spillane, Leonard, etc.). And then, in more recent years I discovered Rankin, Connelly, C. J. Samson and Scandinavian Fiction, and a few other stray Crime Fiction writers like Ken Bruen. Scandinavian Crime Fiction is still one of my favourites all round. When I had finished all of Mankell's wonderful Wallander books, I started looking elsewhere for Scandinavian fiction. Helene Tursten's Inspector Irene Huss is wonderful as is Ake Edwardson's young, hip Inspector Winter, while Liza Marklund's newspaper reporter, Annika Bengtzon gets herself into some riveting, nail-biting situations. Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer is great, as is Arnaldur Indridason's Inspector Erlunder. These are all excellent translations (unlike the earlier Swedish thrillers by Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöo, whose translations left something to be desired; that’s why I read the 10 volumes in German, because I couldn’t read stilted and crappy stuff).

When I had got through all the Wallander books I was devastated, which is how I found these other wonderful Scandinavian mystery writers. There is apparently something about the Scandinavian climate and temperament that makes for much-too-my-liking crime stories. Unfortunately, it is looking like there won't be any more Wallanders since Mr. Mankell has gone to another plane of existence.

This leads us to the latest Connelly’s instantiation. Connelly has a very acute understanding of rhythm and pace, knowing how to let a story unfold without too much interference from plot devices. So there is a natural feel to the way I’m drawn inevitably into the world he creates. On top of that he writes wonderful women characters (his daughter, for example). I don't know who stated that while women can write men because they occupy a patriarchal society, male authors are completely unable to write convincing women. I don’t agree. Connelly is able to do it. Is it the way of things writing-wise that the writing profession will soon only be permitted to write stories about the writers themselves because they don’t have legitimacy to portray others?

I’ve been a lot on Bosch lately. I just binge-watched the whole 2nd season in one single weekend. I'm still amazed that people still believe it is possible to faithfully recreate novels to the small or large screen. Bosch is amongst the best there is. TV and film are a different medium demanding different use. If they can even evoke a sense of the place or characters they are doing well. It’s impossible to do a faithful recreation of a novel, but this adaptation is pretty good (not perfect, but what is?). On the whole, this TV show is still better than several other shows of recent years, namely Westworld, which is just a bunch of drivel, no to mention Lee Child's Jack Reacher series being also totally botched by having a half-pint Tom Cruise. Season 2, much more than season 1, is a wonderful example of how to slowly unify seemingly disparate ongoing stories without getting tangled up in contradictions or dead ends, like Connelly in this latest installment, “The Wrong Side of Goodbye”. In this novel we get two stories instead of just one, but the final, all-embracing arc is still compelling and tightly constructed. No major character is wasted, and everyone ends up with a role that is both a necessary component of his or her sub-story and a plausible, intelligible part of the master story.

A final note to say my piece about Titus Welliver. The guy is one of those great TV character actors who shines in everything he's in but has never been given a truly lead role until "Bosch." No surprise, whenever someone gives an actor like that a lead role, they almost always knock it out of the park. He's terrific as Bosch, and it's a testament to what happens when you give a guy a long deserved break rather than just embed a movie star into a TV role because they're desperate.

SF = Speculative Fiction.

NB: Sorry about the name-dropping. Couldn’t be helped. I love them all.

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

I just replied to your various comments on my blogger site. Do you get a notification email or do you have to remember where you commented?

I watched the first season of Bosch and that was enough for me. It certainly didn't make me want to go read the books. Crime fiction has never really appealed to me though, and even Mysteries don't, so it didn't come as a surprise to me :-)

Manuel Antão disse...

I didn't get any kind of notifications. My first love was and always wioll be SF. Crime Fiction was a later addition.