About

Mrs. Peabody investigates international crime fiction, TV and film. Friendly discussion most welcome! Scroll down for Mrs P’s rating system and review policy.

*****

Mrs. Peabody / Kat Hall is a freelance academic, translator, reviewer and moderator at Peabody Ink.

Kat is also Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University and the editor of Crime Fiction in German (University of Wales Press, 2016), which was described by The Times Literary Supplement as ‘an impressive survey of the field’.

A FREE chapter from the volume is available here: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa25191

German CF cover final

Kat contributed to two episodes of Mark’s Lawson’s Radio 4 ‘Foreign Bodies’ series on European crime fiction in 2012. Her journal article for Comparative Literature Studies examines the controversial figure of the ‘Nazi detective’ in crime fiction since the 1990s. Further research can be viewed here.

Online articles include:

***

Star-rating system and review policy

Mrs. Peabody’s blog explores all manner of international crime fiction. It features reviews (these are the numbered posts), general musings on crime fiction, TV and film, and is as likely to discuss a Japanese novel from 1962 as a Swedish or German one from the present day.

Reviews use a star-rating system:

5 = outstanding; read before you die

4 = extremely good; recommend

3 = good, but some reservations

2 = mediocre; spare yourselves

1 = how did this get published?

Posts appear around once a week.

Mrs. Peabody Investigates operates a ‘no spoilers’ policy, although minor spoilers may appear in the comments left below posts. In the case of exceptions, such as interviews carried out with authors, spoiler alerts will be given!

Friendly discussion and debate are most welcome 🙂

*****

Review policy:

The books I review are ones I have bought, or borrowed from the library, or have been sent by publishers. I receive no payment for reviews.

I am happy to receive requests to review books via email, but if you don’t hear back from me, it means I can’t take up the offer to review right now. Apologies.

I review international crime fiction.

I like ‘intelligent crime fiction’.

I tend not to review novels featuring serial killers or misogynist violence.

*****

72 thoughts on “About

  1. I have recently discovered yur website via Petrona /Euro Crime & am enjoying reading your posts & reviews – many of your views I have wholeheartedly agreed with.

    Best regards
    Nicolette
    (crime fiction fan)

    • Thanks, Sergio. The author certainly has an interesting profile! And I’m intrigued by the reference to The Killing. I’ll see if I can get hold of a review copy. All the best, Mrs P.

    • It was lovely to meet you, Antonio – and yes, a very enjoyable 4 days! I thought the panel that you took part in this morning on translation was very interesting; it was great to get such a diverse set of national viewpoints on the various issues (Spanish, Swedish, South African).
      All best wishes, Mrs. P.

  2. I recently discovered your blog thanks to Mark Lawson’s Foreign Bodies on Radio 4. I’m enjoying your reviews and I agree with many of your opinions, especially about the cliched representations of women in some crime fiction. Like you I thought Valesi’s River of Shadows was wonderfully atmospheric but marred by the sex scenes. I’m now reading the first Martin Beck novel; having been told it was a Marxist critique and had a left wing perspective, I was surprised by the prurient description of the victim, particularly the interview of her boyfriend by the US cop which goes into graphic detail about her sex life. It’s hard to work out how whether or not she climaxed in America is relevant to finding a killer in Sweden. I know this was written before 70s feminism, but I was disappointed all the same. It seems cliches about women and female sexuality are not limited to Italian male crime authors.

    • Hello, Susan, and welcome to the blog, which I’m glad you’re enjoying.

      What you’ve said about Roseanna, the first Martin Beck novel (1968), has really got me thinking. It’s a little while since I read it, but I understood the role of those sexual details in a slightly different way. I saw them as providing the reader with a portrait of Roseanna as a very independent, sexually-liberated person, and instead of indulging in the stereotypes one might find in literature of the time (that her sexuality was what ‘got her into trouble’), the authors give her full victim status. Beck, for example, never wavers in his quest to bring her murderer to justice. So in that respect the novel is arguably groundbreaking.

      But I take your point, and think I may need to read the novel again, so that I can see that interview with the American cop in the context of the whole narrative!

  3. I agree it is a groundbreaking novel and the authors wanted to show Roseanna (and themselves) as modern and sexually liberated, but I found some of their approach quite disturbing, almost voyeuristic, although I suppose all fiction is voyeurism to some extent! As well as the American cop scene, at one point Beck asks a colleague to write a detailed description of the corpse which I also found a little prurient. I cannot ever recall reading a crime novel which described a male victim in that way. I’m only half way through the book but it is striking how few women there are and how marginal they seem, though I suppose this reflects how different women’s role was in the 60s – so far there are no female police. I like Beck’s compassion , not just for Roseanna but for the woman Karin who worked on the cruise boat and has fled a violent man.

    • Thanks, Susan. I think you’re right that there is sometimes a very problematic voyeurism present in crime fiction, especially in relation to the female victim. I’d love to hear what you think once you’ve finished the novel – whether the final section modifies your current feelings or not. I’m keen to re-read it now and wonder whether it might fall into the category of a transition text, where you see a narrative trying to do something new, but some older conventions are visible as well.

  4. Dear Mrs P,
    I’ve just now enjoyed reading the comments on your blog but am disturbed by what Susan Wright says as it resonates so closely to my own feelings about the kind of obsessively detailed descriptions of violence against women in some crime novels. I don’t think it’s good enough to say it takes place in the 60’s so it’s OK. The same prurience is rarely directed towards male murderees. Maybe we should ask ourselves why not? I suppose until it is (though heaven protect us against what that will mean for our humanity) there will be no equality between men and women. This is just a thought. I have to deal wtih this problem every time I write because my series is set in the fourteenth century when things were a bit rough – and women had even less say than now.
    best wishes, I’m so glad I found you.
    Cassandra Clark

  5. Dear Cassandra

    Thanks very much for your comment and for joining in the conversation – I’m very glad you found us too!

    Depictions of violence against women in crime fiction (especially sadistic sexual violence) have bothered me as long as I’ve been reading in the genre, and I would agree with you that this is a topic that should be highlighted, acknowledged and properly discussed. Every now and then I consider writing a blog post on the subject and then get cold feet, because in many ways it’s such a minefield to discuss. In any case – a few thoughts in response to your comment below:

    – Time of publication: I agree that misogyny should not be excused if it appears in a book written in the 1960s, but it does provide at least a partial explanation that helps us understand its presence.

    – Authorial intent: some authors like Val McDermid have been criticised for writing eye-watering depictions of violence against women (usually by serial killers). I’ve heard VM argue that her intent is to highlight the shocking realities of misogyny and violence against women in our society, which are often ignored. However, the risk that a reader might get some kind of perverse kick out of those depictions remains, as the author can never completely steer the interpretation of his or her writing. Her later books have apparently toned down this element.

    – The same problem could be said to exist in relation to David Peace’s Yorkshire noir quartet (1974, 1977, 1980 and 1983), which explore the Ripper killings in some detail, and which I greatly admire. (This is where things get complicated for me – why do I view some depictions of violence against women as justifiable and some not? I need to think about this in more detail, but think it has to do with the purpose of those depictions / what the inclusion of those depictions achieves in the larger context of the narrative.)

    – Misogyny sells? One really depressing thought for me is that publishers / film studios are actively on the lookout for explicit depictions of violence against women (whether in crime fiction or other genres such as horror), because they know that these sell. What that says about us as a society is too bleak to contemplate.

    – Equality: funnily enough, I happen to be reading An Uncertain Place by the French crime novelist Fred Vargas at the moment, which features an unbelievably brutal murder of a man, with some pretty prurient features! Still undoubtedly an exception to the rule, and I agree with you that this isn’t the kind of equality for which we should aim!

    – There was a bit of a media storm in 2009, when Jessica Mann, an author and critic, declared that she was no longer willing to review some books due to their misogynist content: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/25/jessica-mann-crime-novels-anti-women?intcmp=239 . Val McDermid then wrote a response (she felt that female authors were being unfairly targeted for criticism) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/oct/29/misogynist-crime-fiction-val-mcdermid). There’s another interesting post on the issues raised in that discussion here: http://www.stevenwbeattie.com/?p=736

    – I’d be very interested to hear in a little more detail how you deal with all of these complexities as a writer yourself…

    Thanks again for your comment!

    All best wishes, Mrs. P.

  6. I am allergic to crime novels depicting violence (torture, serial killer, mentally unstable kidnappers, etc) against women, children & other victims and I am afraid that the genre seems to be increasingly popular. I have failed to finish several “raved about” books on these grounds, and failed even to start others, eg Stuart MacBride’s latest whose plot blurb is horribly off-putting.

    That having been said, I do not think the criticism of Roseanna by Sjowall/Wahloo is fair. I think this is a serious book, not purient, and I feel that Beck’s sympathy for the victim drives him on to solve a crime that others would long since have forgotten. I think the S/W novels are as far from some of the poorly written, sensationalist rubbish that is written these days as it is possible to be!

  7. This is a perennial topic and one I suspect will be with us for several generations yet. I do my best to avoid books in which the violence against women feels particularly prurient but, like you Mrs P, I might not always appear consistent as I do tend to take intent into account and, of course, it is usual that I have to infer intent from things outside the book in question (e.g. the author’s previous work). Somewhat perversely I absolutely do not think that we should be censoring our publications based on the fact that some perverted sicko somewhere might get some enjoyment or, heaven forbid, some ideas, from what he (and it will almost definitely be a he) reads. That way madness (and totalitarian dictatorships lie).

    I think I do disagree with one point made earlier in this discussion, well half-disagree anyway. I think the reason we don’t see nearly as many graphic descriptions of torture and sexually motivated violence occurring to men in crime fiction is that the genre is after all in some ways a reflection of real life and that kind of violence does not happen as much to men in real life as it does to women. However, the kind of violence that men are often subject to – being shot or dying in violent person-to-person fighting – is depicted quite a lot. George Pelecanos’ books are full of it as are the books of many other authors I’m sure – but I can’t name heaps of them because I tend to avoid them just as I do the books in which violence against women for the sake of it appears to be a central point to the book’s existence.

    • Thanks very much, Bernadette – you raise some extremely interesting points there.

      I absolutely agree with you about the censorship issue, although one thing I’m interested in is the ‘self-censorship’ angle, by which I mean authors who may change their approach to depicting violence in a series, due to audience reactions or because they feel that they went a step too far in their early work. I’ve heard David Peace say (at a reading in Belfast a couple of years ago) that he would have written parts of the first of his Yorkshire noir / ‘Red Riding’ quartet differently today, particularly the detailed depictions of what was done to the female child victims in the novel. He saw this shift as being partly due to his own development as a writer; he now felt elements of those depictions were gratuitous. I’d be very interested to hear if other authors have modified their depictions of violence as their writing careers progressed (in either direction, in relation to either gender, and if so why).

      ‘Gendered’ types of violence as a reflection of real life: this is a really good point, and I think what Val McDermid was arguing when defending depictions of violence against women in her own books (as I heard her do at a Harrogate panel in 2006). I was barely able to read portions of The Last Temptation , but I could at least see what she was trying to achieve. It did put me off reading her works for a while though. George Pelecanos: another author I greatly admire, whose novel The Big Blowdown is on my list of all-time crime greats. His depictions of violence seem to me to be carefully contextualised in larger narratives of ethnic and class tensions, and work for that reason in my view.

      On a slightly different note, I’m so grateful that there are strong, female investigative figures such as V.I. Warshawski, Jane Tennison, Annika Bengtzon, Edie Kiglatuk, Smilla Jasperson, Sarah Lund and others, who provide a positive counter-weight to the dominant image of the woman as victim as well!

  8. Agree with you both on the censorship aspects, & Bernadette makes a good point about the “macho” violence which is more commonly the way it is done to males in crime fiction, than the type of nastiness done to the weak (women, children). Reminds me of the way some comedians on TV are said to target the disabled.

    Val McDermid seems to have toned down her torture-style books over the past few years, so she herself may be an example. Probably to do with appealing to a wider, non-crime-reading, audience.

    It is nice to me that some of the very best-selling and top (my view!) crime authors don’t depict unnecessary violence while still being hard hitting, eg M Connelly, D Meyer, I Rankin, R. Rendell, L. Marklund. I also like authors like Peter Temple who address tough issues such as abuse of children (in care homes), young women, etc– making the topics harrowing and not airbrushing, but still not dwelling on them in unnecessarily “revelling in it” ways. Connelly, Marklund etc do quite a bit of this, too.

    • Thanks very much, Maxine. I very much agree with your last paragraph: a huge amount depends on the quality of the writer, and the skill with which he or she situates depictions of violence in the context of larger issues. That’s when the crime novel reaches its full potential as a vehicle for critiquing society, and highlighting the crimes and injustices perpetrated within it.

  9. Dear Mrs P,
    Thanks for your very thoughtful comments on mine re violence. I do agree that context is important but when people say it’s ok if well written this is to put aesthetics above ethics. Something to discuss there, I feel. I also question one of the contributors remarks about violence being mostly done to women and therefore it’s a true picture of society. (Novelists are not journalists.) I haven’t checked the statistics but I would imagine most murders are a result of street violence between young men. It’s the criticism of unbalance, also levelled at crime novels set in Iceland or Sweden – more corpses than inhabitants! – leading one to imagine the crime rate in these places is ten times higher than that in Chicago, tipping the balance towards blatant untruth and undermining the argument that they provide a true picture of society. What gets me down is the constant dwelling on women as victims. Yes, we know about mysogyny but what do we know about how to fight back? If detailed descriptions of the nasty things people can do to other people is considered necessary to tell a good story then I want to see a few winning women in this literary-engendered battle. In fact, come to think of it, that’s how I deal with it in my own writing. Hildegard fights back. I hope she always will.
    best wishes, and thanks for setting up such a thought provoking site.
    Cassandra

    • Many thanks, Cassandra – you raise a number of interesting points to chew on! I’m on the move with my day job until late this evening, but will respond at greater length as soon as possible.

    • I’ll respond to this as I was the one who made the original claim and I do think it stands up. If women are going to be subject to violence it is most likey to be domestic violence or sexual assault by someone she knows (and by knows I mean everything from is married to’ to has met briefly) – that’s what the health stats say anyway (which I know about from my day job) – I think crime fiction reflects this though of course it takes things to extremes (often for no good reason, sometimes to make a perfectly valid point) – of course there is also a whole load of serial killer fiction in which mostly women are tortured and whatnot but most of these are cashing in on a trope that I think had its origins in something far less flashy and probably a lot more realistic (e.g. the guy meets girl and when she says no he decides she meant yes and rapes her scenario). That certainly appears to be what the early books depicting quite graphic violence from authors like Patricia Cornwell were doing (I think Cornwell lost track of this early theme but that’s another story).

      That said I think there is a whole load of crime fiction that does not treat women as victims – there are loads of strong female characters who fight the good fight either due to some trauma in their own past or their viewing of the realities of what has happened to other people they know. Certainly most of the crime fiction I read these days does not cast women as the perennial vicitm. But I rarely read any of the mainstream crime/thriller/slasher stuff in which people are making things out of human skin or collecting women’s body parts or any of that kind of nonsense

  10. Great idea – and a lovely way to wrap up this discussion. Perhaps we could each suggest one or two?

    Mine would be:
    Smilla Jaspersen in Peter Hoeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.

  11. Hello Mrs P: A Swansea-born, raised and educated author of traditional mysteries, I now live in Vancouver, Canada, and I can see that there are no “Canadian” books on your “country by country” listing. This link will take you to the Spring Preview for crime fiction in “Quill & Quire”, Canada’s leading book industry magazine. I’m delighted to say that my second novel, THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE, which will be published in March this year by TouchWood Editions, is mentioned.

    http://www.quillandquire.com/blog/index.php/in-the-magazine/spring-preview-2013-canadian-short-fiction-crime-fiction-and-poetry/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spring-preview-2013-canadian-short-fiction-crime-fiction-and-poetry

    Here’s hoping that a middle-aged, bossy, overindulgent Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology (Cait Morgan) appeals!

  12. Hello Cathy – thanks very much for getting in touch. The lack of Canadian crime is a pretty serious omission on the blog, now I come to think of it, so many thanks for pointing me in the direction of ‘Quill and Quire’. I’m sure I’ll enjoy looking around – and I like the sound of your Welsh Canadian creation very much! All best wishes from a rainy and windy Swansea 🙂

    • Nice to hear from you Mrs. P. It might be windy & rainy there, but I just had to listen to my Mum & sister tell me about the lunch they got from Dick Barton’s which they ate in the car park at Limeslade…and I miss that so much! That said, I do love living here, and, when I get back to Swansea each year, I get to stuff myself with lots of Joe’s ice cream without the slightest hint of guilt! 🙂

      • No consumption of ice-cream should ever involve guilt 🙂 Funnily enough, we’re thinking of heading down to Verdi’s this weekend. It’s been too long since we sampled their delicious sundaes. And you never know, the sun might peep out.

        Hope you have some decent ice-cream options out your way…

  13. Oh dear – yes, enjoy Verdi’s. Sigh. Here? Purdy’s is an excellent brand of chocolate and they have ice cream, which is very good. But, to be honest, I’m not generally a huge ice cream fan…I suppose that Joe’s spoiled me, and nothing will ever match their chocolate sundae’s now! BIG sigh! Being at Llwyn-y-bryn meant it was close enough to go every day. “Those were the days, my friend…” Sorry – you’ll probably hum that in your sleep now, won’t you!? Have a super weekend, and please have a treat looking out toward the pier for me? Thanks! 🙂

      • I’m glad you found the article to be interesting. I can only hope to develop the mastery displayed by the authors listed, and am fortunate to have found a publisher that supports me in doing the work that entails! 🙂 All the best…C

      • Congratulations! I imagine that having that support is hugely helpful in all sorts of ways. There was a panel at the Harrogate Crime Festival last year that turned into a debate about the supporting role of publishers and whether this was still needed by authors in an era of entrepreneurial self-publishing. One author on the panel got himself into hot water by claiming not!

  14. Oh my: entrepreneurial self-publishing vs traditional publishing houses…I cannot imagine how that ended up being a heated discussion! The only thing I’m sure of is that each writer’s journey and experience will be different.

    We live in an age when there are so many alternative models for every type of business (and the book industry, in all its parts, is a business) that the old models co-exist alongside neophytes, sometimes (more often than not) quite unhappily. One might be a proponent for, or a Luddite in the face of, change, or even a comfy fence-straddler, but one thing is certain: change happens, sometimes slowly, sometimes at break-neck speed, but it is inevitable.

    My own experience involves a fairly circuitous route towards traditional publication: a short story that won a place in a traditionally published anthology; a re-anthologising of that story; a production of it for BBC Radio 4; writing more short stories to accompany the original, which I self-published as a volume; another short story from that volume being produced on BBC Radio 4; a collection of four novellas that I self-published; sending the self-published books to publishing houses to try to get some interest; a contract from the second publishing house I approached asking for a novel, a proposal for a series, and, following the well-received first book, the forthcoming launch of my second murder mystery. I have no agent. I have only met my publisher, face to face, once. This is my experience. I’m sure it’s been very different for many, not so different for some. Sometimes I feel guilty that I cannot “boast” of being able to paper the walls of my writing garret with rejection letters, but I can’t.

    I decided to self-publish because a) I’m naturally a very impatient person, and, let’s be honest, the pace at which the publishing industry operates (necessarily, because it revolves around human beings reading lots and lots!) is very slow; and, b) despite the fact that I could point to nine published academic textbooks that I’d written, I wanted to prove to myself, and potential fiction publishers, that I could get enough words, in generally the right order to tell a good story, well, onto paper, to produce a book with an appeal to a particular target market (the nine textbooks I wrote were marketing and marketing communications textbooks, so the concepts of marketing vs sales are well-known to me).

    For me, I still believe that the access to traditional bookstore shelves, which is gained by the use of an industry sales-force, is a valuable compliment to the internet sales of printed and electronic versions of my works, which is now something that self-published authors can achieve for themselves. But that’s ME. Not other writers. Maybe it’s because I’m in my fifties now, and that’s the expectation I have of “a book being published”: that it will be a physical entity sitting on shelves in bookshops and libraries, rather than “merely” an electronic file. Again: that’s ME.

    A “traditional publisher”, in my case, has encouraged me to write, by sitting in judgement of my work and green-lighting it, providing two editors I can work with to polish my efforts, a wonderful designer who creates atmospheric cover art and a print, sales and distribution organisation I could never afford to access on my own. Both my publisher and I are taking risks, and we both garner, hopefully, the rewards. It’s a long-game, not a short one. And I’m in it for the long-haul. As, I hope, are they. Could I have continued to self-publish, gather good reviews, wider knowledge about my works and, eventually, the same reach to readers without them? Maybe. I don’t know. I’ll never know. All I can do is be very grateful that I’m working with some super individuals who are dedicated to producing books that please some people (let’s be honest – we all hope that it’s, eventually, a LOT of people) some of the time. And I hope to keep doing this for many years to come.

    • Thanks very much, Cathy – this is a fascinating insight into an author’s experience of writing and publishing. From what you say, it seems that you developed your writing in quite an organic way – short story to novella to novel – and succeeded in creating some momentum via the Radio 4 productions as well – it sounds like a very well worked out progression. How helpful to have had that knowledge of marketing too!

      Quite a few authors seem to have a foot in both the self-publishing and publisher camps – perhaps the future is a hybrid approach? It’s interesting though, that a number of authors who had their breakthrough via self-publishing have chosen to work with publishers at a later point, and have expressed relief at having a team to support them, rather than having to do it all themselves. The expertise and experience that publishers have to offer emerging writers must surely also be invaluable.

  15. I hope this finds you well. After seeing the incredible variety crime & thriller books that Mrs. Peabody Investigates reviews and features, from historically inspired thrillers to densely plotted murder mysteries, I wanted to drop you a line about former director of the British Board of Film Classification Robin Duval who is releasing his second political thriller Below the Thunder next month. I hope you may be able to consider it for review; alternatively, Robin would also be available for Q&A where he can discuss how politics and history have always fascinated and inspired him or his background as director of the BBFC.

    Robin was director of the BBFC (which celebrated its centenary last year) from 1999 – 2004 and was responsible for some ground-breaking and controversial changes at the organisation, including introducing the 12A certificate, bringing previously banned films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Story of O to the cinema screen, and infamously approving the video release of seminal horror The Exorcist.

    Below the Thunder is a fast-paced political thriller, in which an unlikely hero accepts a mission to frustrate a political conspiracy and falls into a web of deceit and great danger.

    If you could provide me with your email address I can send across a press release. For more information visit Robin’s website: http://www.robinduval.co.uk.

    Best wishes

    Nicole Allan
    Midas Public Relations

  16. Hi Mrs P.
    First I just want to say that that i´m an avid reader of your excellent blog and that your interesting articles always make me wish I have even more time to read al those great crime novels I did not know of before 🙂

    As you I have a special interest in inteligent historical crime novels set in war time Europe or which deal with the legacy of the totalitarian past or present: Alan Furst, Philip Ker, John Le Carré, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, Jonathan Rabb etc.

    And that is why I want to draw your attention to a writer who I don´t know wheter or not you may be familiar with. It´s the czech/canadian writer and historian Dan Vyleta who has written, in my opinion, two excellent dark Crime novels: Pavel and I, set in post war Berlin ,and in my opinion, the better of the two, The Quiet Twin, set in Vienna during the nazi rise to power.

    Best wishes from a danish aficionado of good crime literature 😉

    • Many thanks, Jens Henrik. I’m delighted to hear that you’re enjoying the blog, and even more delighted to meet a fellow reader with similar interests to my own. I hadn’t heard of Dan Vyleta before, so I’m really grateful to you for bringing him to my attention – I’ll check him out right away. If you have any other hidden gems, it would be great to hear about them.

      All best wishes, Mrs. P 🙂

  17. Hi again
    I forgot to mention the Spanish crime novelist Ignacio del Valle, who has written three novels with the same protagonist, Arturo Andrade, who during The Spanish Civil War ends up working for the national side against the Republic. And later on by misfortune he gets himself enrolled in ‘La división Azul´(The Blue Division) made up by Spanish volunteers that served in the German army on the eastern front. Finally, in the last book, we are taken to a Berlin falling apart in 1945 with the Russian soldiers at the gates, and Arturo Andrade has to take on a murder case while everyone else is fleeing the city.

    I read the books in spanish, but from the look of his homepage the novels should by now be translated into english:1) The art of killing dragons, 2)The time of the strange emperors, 3)The demons of Berlin. http://www.ignaciodelvalle.es/index-en.php

    • Thanks very much, Jens Henrik – this author’s another one who’s new to me, and who covers some very interesting historical territory. That ‘end game’ period of the war seems to be very popular with crime novelists, and I’m always keen to see what aspects of it they emphasise. Very grateful to you for passing these recommendations on 🙂

  18. Dear Mrs P – just to let you know that I nominated you for a WordPress Family Award. Normally I’m a bit squamish abotu that sort of thing, but I guess it does feel like a community out there sometimes and it’s worth celebrating at least once!

  19. These discussions are fascinating – thank you so much, Mrs. P., for hosting and guiding them. I was beginning to think I was the only reader who despaired at the seemingly endless wave of noir crime novels, and though I’m occasionally seduced into one by setting or humour, I always feel rather grubby afterwards. I’m also interested in the current battle between traditional and self-published markets. It seems to me that genre fiction such as crime has been mistreated by the traditional publishers for some time, probably because there is so much of it available and they felt they could dismiss potential new authors easily. In addition, as a self-published person myself, I would have to be on the receiving end of some very heavy blandishments from any agent or publisher, even when I feel that I’m spending more time on publicity than writing (that is, less time on what I want to do and am vaguely competent at and more time on what I hate doing and am useless at!). Stories one hears about publishers overriding authors in matters of title, cover and even plot are very offputting.
    Thanks for all the tips on fascinating authors! More to read.

    • You’re welcome, Lexie, and apologies for taking so long to respond – work is a bit mad at the moment!

      Yes, developments in the publishing world, especially self-publishing, are extremely interesting. I know of a couple of cases where crime authors have started out self-published, but have then been picked up by publishers on large deals (e.g. James Oswald). I think that when interest gets to a certain point, it’s probably good to have the whole machinery of publishing and promotion behind you, but I take your point about control. I recently read a Hakan Nesser novel and thought the cover was a very bad fit for the book. It must be galling as an author to have your work misrepresented in that way.

    • I haven’t as yet, but may well in the future (which begs the question of what national areas, if any, I would exclude from the category international crime fiction!).

  20. Well, plenty of Scottish stuff! including James Oswald, of course; Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series, Shirley McKay’s excellent mediaeval St. Andrews and Pat McIntosh’s mediaeval Glasgow – and my Georgian Edinburgh / Fife ones.

    Sorry for contacting you at what I really should know is a very busy time of the academic year!

  21. Dear Mrs Peabody,
    In the light of the Guardian story today I hope you can find the space to write about the recent lecture by the Icelandic detective story writer Arnaldur Indriðason at the Arne Magnusson Institute in Iceland, challenging the values of bankers and extolling those of the sagas. Or about your views of ‘impact’

    With every good wish

    • Hello, Concerned Graduate. Thanks very much for your comment, and for alerting me to the Indridason lecture, which sounds fascinating. How did you hear about it – do you have Icelandic links yourself? I couldn’t see any reference to the lecture in English-language coverage on the web just now (I’ve just had the quickest of looks), but will ask my Icelandic contacts for further information. I’m extremely interested in the ‘author as social commentator’, and so would be very keen to see what Indridason has to say, especially given the economically turbulent years Iceland has experienced recently.

      For a Mrs. P. post on a similar theme – the interventions of Greek crime author Petros Markaris, see here: https://mrspeabodyinvestigates.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/petros-markaris-greek-crime-writer-and-social-commentator/.

      You also ask me to say a little more about my views on ‘impact’. As you’ll have gathered from the Guardian piece, I’m an academic very much in favour of the idea of public engagement, and for that reason I was happy to act as a ‘poster girl’ for impact on this occasion. My experiences are very much that in giving as an academic you also receive – the interactions and dialogues between academic/blogger and readers/blog users have been mutually beneficial in all sorts of different ways. ‘Impact’ also got me doing things that I might not have done otherwise, such as the BBC Radio 4 programmes. That kind of activity was definitely outside of my comfort zone at the time, but I was incredibly glad to have contributed as the response from listeners was so tremendous.

      You probably know that ‘impact’ is a new metric that was introduced for this UK research exercise at a relatively late stage, and that there have been concerns raised about it as a concept and in relation to its implementation. Some of those concerns have been valid, I think, and I’m hoping that REF will listen very hard to the ‘impact pioneers’ who have taken part in the process this time round, in order to make positive adjustments for the next research cycle. There are always bound to be issues the first time something runs; the key thing is that REF is willing to be genuinely responsive…

      • I can’t imagine how you can measure and compare ‘impact’ over different disciplines. How does discovering the structure of DNA compare with writing a composition for the Royal Wedding, or advising a government on policy compare with the development of a theory whose impact might not be felt for half a century? Some disciplines will naturally have a higher public profile than others, too: should they have points deducted for being more accessible to journalists and politicians?

      • Lexie, you’ve put your finger on some of the major issues relating to impact. Your point about some disciplines having a ‘natural advantage’ due to their already high profile is true even within disciplines in relation to subject areas. I happen to research crime fiction, which of course is an extremely popular genre, and this arguably places me at an advantage when generating impact compared to a colleague studying 13th century German manuscripts.

        This is the first time that impact has featured in the research exercise, and there will undoubtedly need to be adjustments after this first cycle. But there is at least already a recognition within the impact documentation that impact can mean different things in different contexts: it’s defined in a number of ways, allowing it to be applied flexibly to different disciplines, thus avoiding the pitfall of a one-size-fits-all approach. The real difficulties, we’ve found, have been in demonstrating impact. Easier said than done…

    • The advantage of running a blog was that I could ask blog-readers to fill out a survey – and was very lucky in that lots of people were willing to take part. Measuring and proving impact in other ways proved to be an interesting challenge.

      Anyhow, all done and dusted for the time being, and the blog (and its author) can relax!

  22. dear Mrs. Peabody,
    I visited your website with interest. I am a scientist (www.mmgc.eu) who happened to have studied in Swansea, too, and I am also a lover of intelligent crime fiction. When my workload as research consultant was low for a while, I decided to write a crime novel myself. The main character is a female scientist living in Germany, who discovers what she believes is a drug scam in a local pharmaceutical company. Without any legal authority, she has to use her intelligence and scientific skills to get to the bottom of things.
    I published the book by self-publishing at Amazon. A printed version was released this week and it will soon be available as Ebook. The title is ‘An unusual job’ by Trudy M. Wassenaar. I would highly appreciate if you could review it. In case you’re interested, please let me know how you would like to receive the book.
    With kind regards, and keep up to your high standards!
    Trudy Wassenaar

    • Thanks, Trudy. It’s amazing how many Swansea connections there are! Your novel sounds intriguing and I will pick up a copy. I’m not reviewing as much as usual at the moment, because I’m focusing on academic writing for the next few months, and unfortunately get too many request to review everything I’m sent in any case. But I will take a peek 🙂

      If you want to get in touch in the future, just email me at the address on this page.

      All best wishes, Mrs P.

  23. Have just noticed that we are reading the same book – and, for the first time, the subject of your dissertation, despite having come across links to the blog several times. Very interesting, and it also led me to remind myself about Philip Kerr, whose books I was thinking about last week, when I contemplated a visit to the Adlon Hotel, and discover that he was married to someone I used to know, apparently also a successful writer of fiction set in the same period. I read comp lit at UEA and Strasbourg, and am a lifelong devotee of crime fiction (the only thing I could bear to read for years after graduating!) Thinking about why Mankell translated so well drove me back to study. Look forward to spending more time over here..

    • Hello, Barbara. Thanks for dropping by and for following the blog. So are you based in Berlin, or were you there on a trip? And is it postgraduate study that you’ve taken up now?

      I got pulled away from A Treacherous Paradise, but am trying to get back to it to finish it off. I’ll look forward to hearing what you thought about it and to some chats about crime fiction down the line.

      • Hello, Mrs P,
        Sorry for the delay in replying – actually could not remember where I made this post!
        No post-grad studies at the moment, which I am beginning to regret now the clocks have gone back, as it made London winters more bearable, I have completed an Institute of Linguists dip. trans, for which I studied at University of Westminster. I would very much like to further explore literary translation.
        I am based in London -Berlin was because a festival for which I worked for many years, when it was based in Switzerland, took place at the Adlon a few weeks ago. In the end I did not go and the most exotic event I have worked on recently was the Language Show last weekend at Olympia,
        I really enjoyed A Treacherous Paradise, perhaps more than any of the Mankell stand alone novels. Since then I have waded through Lars Kepler (The Hypnotist, not very impressed) and am enjoying a little book of Dennis Lehane stories.
        All best,
        Barbara

      • Sorry for not responding sooner, Barbara.

        It sounds like you’ve had a very interesting career involving languages, and hopefully you’ll get the chance to take the literary translation forward at some point. Perhaps our paths will cross in London some day. I’ll have to check out the Language Show as well – have to confess I didn’t know this was on.

        I enjoyed a Treacherous Paradise too, although it became a little surreal in the end (not quite what I was expecting after his very grounded crime novels). I like the way that Mankell tries out different literary genres, though. Always interesting to read.

  24. Loved the crime fiction list in your database, Mrs.Peabody. Many of my favourite German writers – Ferdinand von Schirach, Bernhard Schlink, Friedrich Dürrenmatt – were all there. Such a comprehensive and wonderful list of crime fiction on a particular theme. Thanks for sharing it. I will come by later and read some of your reviews. Love your blog 🙂

    • Thanks, Vishy. I’m very glad you like the database – there are indeed some wonderful authors included. I actually need to add in a few extra texts, as more are emerging all the time. It’s hard to keep up as there’s something of a boom in historical crime fiction at the moment (not that I’m complaining!).

      Please do come back again and join in some discussions if you fancy. Very nice to meet you 🙂

  25. Hello Mrs P,
    I tweeted you about The Sinner yesterday and have just rattled through the excellent ‘ The girl who wasn’t there’ by Ferdinand von Schirach. I was curious whether you felt madness was a theme in German crime fiction or this is just a coincidence in the two books I’ve recently enjoyed. It also had an interesting cross examination of a police officer at the end about the nature of torture in criminal investigation.

    • Hello Andrew! I haven’t read von Schirach’s The Girl yet – thanks for the reminder. On madness: what an interesting question, and on reflection I’m sure we *would* find that it’s a theme in German and other European crime fiction, not least because whether a crime is committed ‘while of sound mind’ or not is a key one in law.

      I will keep my eye out (it would be fun to compile a list), but another one that springs to mind, because I’ve just mentioned it in a post, is Swiss writer Friedrich Duerrenmatt’s Das Versprechen (The Pledge – 1958). It features a policeman driven to the brink of madness by his desire to solve a crime and to secure justice. If you’ve not read it, I’d very much recommend.

  26. I’ve been meaning to try and find it after I heard him mentioned on the Mark Lawson radio 4 programme about foreign crime, I will make it a priority- thanks

Please leave your comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s