The surface question of this book is "Who is killing these people?" but as a book of layers, readers who choose to dig down further find other questions, many of which will be uncomfortable. Like it's antipodean counterpart, Dust off the Bones, we are seeing an emergence in crime fiction of narrative which deeply engages with crime. Not just the crime that propels a reader to turn the page to find out who dun it. Rather crime that is rooted in great injustices, crimes of nations and states, crimes for which no one person can be jailed, so we can easily say justice is done and move on. Crimes which are so large, that they ripple throughout history, and on the level of time are still present, happening and, ongoing, before our very eyes.
What Urquhart does do though is give us a more rounded an believable serial killer for our protagonist to fight. She leaves aside the grandising of the serial killer as some kind of terrible, yet infalible not quite human figuer in the shadows, an inversion of the great man fallacy, and instead show us someone who is not as clever as he thinks, or wishes to be.
This week on a podcast only episode Mairi interviews Jack Lutz, author of London in Black, a near-future novel about crime and society in London after a biochemical attack. They talk crime fiction, London, names and flawed detectives.
Science Fiction and crime fiction make extremely potent mix, best exemplified in China Mieville's The City and The City. The combination of working out what has happened in the crime, and also unravelling world building to understand the culture and history of a future or different universe, means that a readers synapses will be firing more than normal, and the satisfaction of finding the solution to the crime, while understanding the implications of the sometimes extremely unusual context means the dopamine hit at the end is higher.
Mead's central charctor, John Spector, is the magician who helps the police unravel, this fiendishly difficult murder. As a conjuror he is perfectly placed to understand the art of illusion and distraction, and fits wonderfully well into the narrative. However, we learn little about who Spector is, and how he has come to be assisting the police, leading his presence to be essentailly the third mystery of the book.
For LGBTIQ+ communties crime is too much of a reality. Across the globe queer people are more likely to be victims of crime, historically they have been more likely to be criminalised, and in many places the fear of imprisonment for being nothing more than who you really are is far, far too present. So in this post we are going to pinpoint some of the best podcasts and books TCF has reviewed over the last seventeen months which whether fiction or non-fiction have an LGBTIQ+ element.
This week Mairi sit's down with crime fiction author Amy Suiter-Clark to talk about the process of writing her debut Girl, 11, and many other things crime fiction, including why neither of them will ever light up a room.
Until then, she and Hugo were just a summer fling. Exciting for her, because Hugo had looks and threw money around like no one’s business. Exciting for him because Carly, if not quite from the wrong side of the tracks, was definitely from a different station. Now Carly realised that, if she played her cards right – acted like she cared and moved fast – he might actually fall for her. She ran a hand gently through his clean, lemony hair.
Many writers, even those native to the Highlands can imbue their descriptions with a sense of twee kitsch and a paint by numbers version of what is a beautiful, but highly complex, part of the world. Writing the Highlands is easy, but writing the Highlands well, with a sensitivity to the land and it's deep history is a feat that only those with a unforced empathy can complete.
Creature X is ultimately trying to entertain, rather than change the world, an egoistic conceit to begin with, and sometimes, as long as it is done mindfully, and conciously of impact of steriotypes entertainment for it's own sake is enough. And perhapse, while writing a hunt for a mythological creature, Dupuis has managed a few blows in getting rid of other dinosaurs altogether.