I started reading Matthew Pearl's 'The Poe Shadow' a few days ago. The book is in english, and english is not my mother language. Now, with plain english, I have no problems, but with 19th century english I might have some. It almost made me put the book away. But the book is telling the mystery of Edgar Poe's death in 1850 Baltimore. So in all my frustration I started reading Dahlquist's 'The glass books of dream eaters' which is set in victorian England, but luckily that one is a translate :) I've just started it and I can't say much other than - this will be some weird victorian stuff :)
In the meantime I managed to cope with 1850 Baltimore language so at the moment I'm reading both books. And both are promising for now.
That made me ponder once again how many times a historical novel that uses fake historical language seems to win praise as a "literary" novel. I cannot read them myself because the lnguage almost never works.
I have been lucky in finding two recent Scandinavian mysteries: Arnaldur Indridason's ARCTIC CHILL, and Karin Fossum's THE WATER'S EDGE. Let me observe first that Indridason's titles never make much sense to me. Okay, it's winter, but it's always winter in his novels. This one is about a small boy's murder and racial tensions. He is good, but not nearly as good as critics make out. The social commentary is burdensome, and Inspector Erlendur's personal problems with his two grown children have become repetitive. Apparently, they cannot be resolved because the protagonist needs some private stress.
Karin Fossum is, as always, very good indeed. Here, too, children die, but they die under circumstances that allow the author to deal with people's common prejudices (including the reader's). In other words, the book tries to do more than be merely politically correct. (It's irrelevant, but interesting that Norwegian justice seems to operate on an astonishing amount of leniency to offenders who are seen in a very human light.)
FREE FALL IN CRIMSON by John D. MacDonald. There is something about chewing into some of these novels from the sixties and seventies, although this is the early eighties. That being said, in the last couple years I've had the pleasure of reading the likes of Donald Hamilton's "Matt Helm" series as well as Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer. Sometimes it's great to revisit some of the standard bearers for the first time and see what it was that gave them their rep in the first place. It's like reading Robert Ludlum...the real Robert Ludlum.
I am currently reading "The Kill Artist" by: Daniel Silva, and also an excellent book by Patrick Anderson called "The Triumph of the Thriller" which is a history of and study of modern Popular Thriller fiction. Both of them are very very good.
Alan Bradley's THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE is a winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and has appeared on last years' best and bestsellers' lists. It's a children's book featuring an improbably learned and accomplished eleven-year-old girl with her own state-of-the-art chemistry lab where she concocts poisons to test out on her older sisters. Not sure how that would play among juvenile readers and their parents, but the book is quite charming if totally remote from real life.
Umm, let me add that this is indeed a murder mystery with the girl as the lead detective. :)
Back to Sharon McCone. Last night I finished LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR WILLIE (I like Willie) and started EYE OF THE STORM in bed this morning. I read the latter many years ago, and still remember the setting with a touch of awe.