In praise of crime fiction

A Taste for Death -Times Online.

This leader (link above) in today's Times is a paean of praise for the novels of P. D. James. Whether or not one finds these particular novels the pinnacle of crime fiction, one cannot disagree (well, I can't) with the sentiments expressed in the editorial. Surely this article marks a turning point, in which crime fiction is truly out of the genre box and can stand up to be considered on its own merits (as its aficionados already knew). From the article:

In negotiating his way through the pathways of human destructiveness, Dalgliesh is also a guide to our times. Lady James is a perceptive chronicler of the changing landscape of London; the flux of urban development and the housing market; the corrosive culture of sink estates; the ruthless politics of the professions; and even the use of the internet for hedonistic purposes…….it is her literally forensic insight into crime that remains her most distinctive fictional device. Like Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe, she has looked at the darkness of the human psyche, and created from it not just entertainment but literature.

4 thoughts on “In praise of crime fiction

  1. Has the author Fred Vargas been translated into English yet from her native French? Like P.D. James and Henning Mankell, she makes some wonderful social observations while delivering the goods with very well-constructed crime fiction.

  2. Welcome, Heather! Yes indeed, Vargas is very popular in English translation (she’s won the Dagger twice, which is the main award for this type of fiction). She is a big favourite on Euro Crime, the website for which I review. Even “the” favourite of some of the reviewers. I enjoy her books but do find them a bit quirky! The Three Evangelists was an amusing satire on academic interactions and rivalries, though, and I did like Seeking Whom He May Devour – I wrote a post about that recently because of Carla Sazorsky’s (can’t remember her surname) recent “adoption” of wild animals.

  3. I feel like that about a few authors Maxine. I think many of the modern accomplished writers are both writing crime fiction and making social comment. I think Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin are 2 more writers who do this particularly well.

  4. Pingback: The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, J is for James, P. D. James | The Game's Afoot

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