Crime of the Saturday Times

No new crime-fiction novels reviewed in this week’s Times review, though there is a shorter version of the discussion between P D James and Ruth Rendell published originally in the Royal Society of Literature Review and linked on Connotea Detective — a rather stilted and cliched debate about why crime fiction is popular. One weird bit when James describes being on a plane to give a talk about her books and re-reading them to refresh her memory, and in one of them "getting entirely the wrong murderer". Bizarre. I imagine it was one of her later books, after she went off, post "An unsuitable job for a woman" which was the last one of hers I really enjoyed. I have read more but I find it odd the way she seems to drop central characters between books, and Adam Dalgleish never gets old enough compared with the world (Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone does not get older, but the author has slowed time down accordingly, which is fine). Also I find her books less and less convincing, though I do have her latest in one of my "wait piles". Rendell I do like, usually, also when she writes as Barbara Vine. I like her detective duo Inspectors Wexford and Burden, though thought the TV series utterly feeble in comparison to the books.

The Times also has a short article by Val McDermid about her latest book "The Grave Tattoo" which I have been waiting for a while. It is, she says, about an imaginary meeting or relationship between Wordsworth and Fletcher Christian, the latter having escaped from Pitcairn. She says that these two were schoolmates, which seems amazing. Definitely a book to read!

The final crime ration is a review of Captoe’s "In Cold Blood", to tie in with the movie which is just opening in the UK to mainly positive reviews. I did enjoy ICB but don’t have any wish to read it again or to see a movie about Capote who I find rather disgusting. A thriller, "The Spanish Game" is reviewed but is a spy story so does not tempt me, as well as being third in a series. Got a good write-up, though.

Jay McInereny’s latest is reviewed by Douglas Kennedy, who should know. I liked JMcI’s first couple of books but, like most people, have not read more. I was mildly tempted by the 9/11 theme of the latest, and I do like books set in New York, but the review put me off — all those restaurants and designer handbags to keep up with.

Plenty of other diversions, as usual, in the issue.