Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

British Police NovelsWho are the new ones?


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 08 February 2010 - 09:16 PM

I have long enjoyed novels by UK authors which center on crime and police. Generally they are also murder mysteries but often focus on the life including the interior and family life of the police officer who solves the crime and who (generally but not always with a subordinate partner) is in each of the series of books. Unfortunately many of the series are coming to an end, one way or another:

P.D. James Commander Adam Dalgliesh is still tasked with solving murders but James (Baroness James of Holland Park) is 89 years old and may not have that many more books left to write. Dalgliesh was introduced in "Cover Her Face", 1962.

Ruth Rendell Chief Inspector Reg Wexford and his long time partner Inspector Mike Burden continue to bring murderers to justice in Kingsmarkham, Sussex. They began as Inspector and Sargeant in "From Doon with Death", 1964. Rendell (Baroness Rendell of Babergh) is 80 years old and has said that she is not killing Wexford off. Which means she may be.

Ian Rankin Detective Inspector John Rebus of the Lothian and Borders police, headquartered in Edinburgh has retired. Rankin hasn't ruled out bringing him back in a private capacity but this one looks to be over.

Colin Dexter Chief Inspector Morse will not be coming back since his author killed him off--heart failure and diabetes--in "The Remorseful Day", allowing crime to run rampant in Lonsdale College, Oxford and the seedier areas of Soho.

Reginald Hill Dalziel and Pascoe have aged with Andy Dalziel barely surviving "The Death of the Fat Man". Peter Pascoe and DS Edgar Wield could carry on.

There are others: Bartholomew Gill has created a large team of detectives to support his protagonist Peter McGarr, head of the murder squad of the Dublin Garda; Peter Robinson has Inspector Alan Banks solving murders in Eastvale, North Yorkshire; Val McDermid has clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan solving murders that need the a criminal profiler.

I enjoyed earlier books by Elizabeth George (who lives in California) more than her recent ones. She seems to have lost control of the characters. Killing off Inspector Lynley's wife didn't work and marooning Simon St. James on Guernsey for over 500 pages was a mistake.

I have read most the Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) novels of suspense (the "non-Wexford" novels--they are excellent.

Any suggestions from those who have read some/all of the above authors and also some I haven't mentioned? It looks like the snow is finally starting in earnest here in Motown and I would like to get a small stack of mysteries for some hoped for snowed in days.

#2 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,455 posts

Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:54 AM

Hi, Ed. thanks for posting. I went through a period years ago where I read a ton of mysteries (none of the names you've mentioned). I haven't read very many contemporary ones. I tried one or two of the Kinsey Millhone books, which didn't work for me. Also read the first of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, which I liked but not enough to follow up with the rest of the series. Read one title I can't recall by George Pelecanos. That's about it.

Any other suggestions?

#3 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 09 February 2010 - 12:07 PM

I'm still mourning Morse. They're rerunning the series on our local PBS station. I realize that if this were "real life," there would be no one left alive in Oxford, but stilll...

#4 vagansmom

vagansmom

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts

Posted 09 February 2010 - 12:38 PM

I'm not a mystery book reader for the most part, so I'm no help, Ed. But I've been watching a British TV series, "Wire in the Blood" that I've just discovered, through your post, is based on Val McDermid's detective series. Love the Tony Hill character. Is the book series as gruesome as the TV series?

#5 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,318 posts

Posted 09 February 2010 - 12:43 PM

:beg: but if you want to branch out, the Wallender series by Henning Mankell is full of stories enriched by Kurt Wallender's personal life and family, as well as the underlying commentary on Swedish society. I know that BBC has turned a few into a TV series, starring Kenneth Branaugh as Wallender, and that there are DVD's of the Swedish versions with English subtitles (but quite expensive), but the books are richer, even in translation.

I apologize if I'm repeating myself from another thread.

#6 justafan

justafan

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 112 posts

Posted 09 February 2010 - 01:15 PM

I agree. It is so sad that some of my favorite authors are coming to the end of their series. Indeed, my husband worked with Bartholomew Gill (really Mark McGarrity) and he died a few years back, although a relatively young man.

Some authors I've enjoyed, although not necessarily British.

S.J. Rozan: New York author who changes her point of view between two main protaganists, P.I. partners. I always like reading series from the beginning but she keeps getting better and better. The last few books are quite good.

Steig Larssen: Worldwide phenomena beginning with The Girl with Dragon Tattoo.

Kate Atkinson: I think she's just getting started. Has gotten rave reviews but seems to just be hitting her stride.

Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon, both character-based mysteries set in Italy. Not that much action but I love the sense of place.

I hope you enjoy!

#7 Alymer

Alymer

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 340 posts

Posted 10 February 2010 - 10:56 AM

You could try RD Wingfield who has a series featuring Inspector Jack Frost (I think those are the correct initials).
HRF Keating - best known for his Indian dective, Inspector Ghote - also has a series with titles like The Hard Detective, etc.
Ian Rankin has produced a new detective hero to succeed Rebus and the first book was very enjoyable.
And, should you want to move further abroad, I'm very fond of Barbara Nadel's series set in Turkey and featuring Inspector Ikmen.

#8 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,318 posts

Posted 10 February 2010 - 10:58 AM

I've never read Nadel. Is there one you'd recommend to read first?

#9 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 10 February 2010 - 07:32 PM

Thanks to everyone who responded and came up with further suggestions.

One thing I discovered is that I have read a lot of mysteries :wink: --partially, I would imagine, because I haven't watched much television for about 25 years and haven't watched at all since sometime shortly after the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Alexandra--they do stack up the corpses in Oxford pretty steadily in the Morse books. It might be impossible to fill any vacancies at Lonsdale College, Oxford (Morse's school, which he left without a degree) since tutors, lecturers, masters, etc. there had become handy targets.

dirac--same reaction; Kinsey Millhone ("A is for...") never really caught my interest or at least enough to read more than one or two of the series.

vagansmom--I haven't seen the telecasts although I will probably get the DVDs soon now I know that they are around but Val McDermid's books can be extremely gruesome with a lot of carving up of people. Reading about McDermid makes her sound like a person one would want to have as a neighbor but reading her books makes one uncomfortable being in the same county.

Helene--as it happens I have read most of the Henning Mankell novels set in Sweden but found that his Africa settings didn't really resonate in the same way. I have also read the Martin Beck series of Swedish crime novels by the husband and wife team Maj Sj÷wall and Per Wahl÷÷ which I hadn't thought of until you mentioned Mankell. It turns out there are many Swedish crime writers I hadn't heard of so there will be bunch to chose from there. I haven't read "The Troubled Man" by Mankell or "Man from Beijing" which isn't part of the series and will look for those at the libraries.

justafan--Kate Atkinson is new to me :D I have read all of the Donna Leon books but none of the Andrea Camilleri, all of Rozan (who is terrific) but none of Steig Larson--I had him mixed up with another author whose name escapes me but who delivered a trilogy to his publisher and then died before the first one came out.

Alymer--this is what really convinced me I have read a lot since Frost is a British (English in this case) detective in a series all of which I have read. :excl: There won't be another since Wingfield died a couple of years ago. I need to revisit the Harriet Martens/Hard Detective series since I now recall (thank you) that I liked the one I read. Was unaware that Rankin had started again--lovely news. I am familiar with Inspector Ikmen--Nadel is another author I need to follow up on. As I recall she made Isatabul as much a "character" as Donna Leon did with Venice.

To add just a bit, Arnaldur Indridason, an Icelandic author of a series featuring Inspector Erlendur of the Reykjavik police has a new one out, his fifth, "Arctic Chill". The one before, "The Draining Lake" is excellent. The series is quite good.

#10 Alymer

Alymer

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 340 posts

Posted 11 February 2010 - 12:20 PM

Helene, I would start with the first of Barbara Nadel's Insector Ikmen series which is Belshazzar's daughter. I think there must now be about ten in the series.

Ed: a great many Scandinavian crime writers are now being translated into english. Jo Nesbo is another one I've enjoyed although Sjowell and Wahloo are perennial favourites and I went to immense trouble to aquire the complete set, endlessly haunting second-hand bookshops. But now they've all been re-issued. I guess you've already read Janwillem van de Wetering's Amsterdam cops series.

#11 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:40 PM

Helene, I would start with the first of Barbara Nadel's Insector Ikmen series which is Belshazzar's daughter. I think there must now be about ten in the series.

Ed: a great many Scandinavian crime writers are now being translated into english. Jo Nesbo is another one I've enjoyed although Sjowell and Wahloo are perennial favourites and I went to immense trouble to aquire the complete set, endlessly haunting second-hand bookshops. But now they've all been re-issued. I guess you've already read Janwillem van de Wetering's Amsterdam cops series.


I tried to read van de Wetering and may have started with the wrong book or just been in the wrong frame of mind at the time. Unfortunately I don't recall which of his books it was but the first 50 pages or so were very dark involving the interogation of a prisoner who was obviously guilty (which probably meant he wasn't by the last page) by a policeman who was in an almost unbearable crisis of his own.

I think I will pick one up at the library tomorrow and see what develops.

#12 Alymer

Alymer

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 340 posts

Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:29 AM

The Amsterdam cops series begins with Outsider in Amsterdam, and they are not a bit dark; rather the reverse. One of them, The Rattle Rat, made me laugh out loud quite immoderately. Some of De Wetring's other books can be quite serious though and he has written a couple about Zen Buddhism.

#13 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:12 PM

The Amsterdam cops series begins with Outsider in Amsterdam, and they are not a bit dark; rather the reverse. One of them, The Rattle Rat, made me laugh out loud quite immoderately. Some of De Wetring's other books can be quite serious though and he has written a couple about Zen Buddhism.


I realize that I had once again conflated two authors. I picked up three Van De Wetring books today: "The Sergeant's Cat" a volume of short stories, "The Japanese Corpse" and "The Corpse on the Dike".

#14 justafan

justafan

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 112 posts

Posted 14 February 2010 - 10:57 AM

Thanks for this thread, Ed. I've gotten some ideas from it myself.

I think you'd like Camilleri if you like Leon -- Sicily instead of Venice but the same sense of frustration with Italy's corruption. And I definitely urge you to read Larssen -- the acclaim for the first book was well-deserved.

#15 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 18 February 2010 - 05:09 PM

The Amsterdam cops series begins with Outsider in Amsterdam, and they are not a bit dark; rather the reverse. One of them, The Rattle Rat, made me laugh out loud quite immoderately. Some of De Wetring's other books can be quite serious though and he has written a couple about Zen Buddhism.


A quick note on Janwillem van de Wetering's novels set generally in Amsterdam and environs and featuring the members of the Amsterdam Police Murder Squad. I have read one and will finish another in the next few hours. de Wetering tells his story from the viewpoint of Sergeant De Gier, Detective Adjutant Girjpstra and their boss, referred to only by his rank, the commissaris (always lower case). Helpfully enough, each book is footnoted at the first reference giving the order of ranks in the Dutch Police establishment.

Both of the lower ranked officers are tough, resourceful and dedicated to their jobs. De Gier is quick witted, strong and fit, a judo black belt and unarmed combat expert. He lives alone in a small apartment in central Amsterdam with his Siamese cat, Oliver. Girjpstra is older, slower and more phlegmatic, able to keep the big picture in mind while he does close readings of physical clues and character traits of suspects. He is married to a wife who hates him and who he hates. They have three children and live in the suburbs.

The commissaris not only hold a very senior position but has the unswerving loyalty of his subordinates and the respect of those who outrank him, including officials from outside of the police. In the book I am reading now “The Japanese Corpse” the commissaris deals with the Dutch ambassador to Japan, the Japanese ambassador to Holland, the head of the CIA station in Holland, a senior member of the Japanese secret service and his own boss the chief constable, as equals. An old man, almost crippled with rheumatic arthritis, short in stature and unexceptional in mien, he is the calm center around which the murder cases revolve. That he is dignified and has quiet authority is shown by the way those around him act and by his own sometime exceptional actions. In one case, for example, when a shocking event all but shatters one of his men the commissaris takes him into his own home, nurses him back to, if not health at least functioning dealing with his rear catatonia followed by nightmares and psychotic episodes with no difficulty.

The mysteries in this series seem to center around why the victim was killed as much as who killed him. Solving the first leads quickly to the second. The moral duties of a person in the late 20th century are one of the themes that run through the books. Another is the acceptance of suffering as inevitable to the human condition although each of the main characters takes his responsibilities very seriously as an upholder of the ethical principles behind the law as well as an enforcer.

Terrific books.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):