June is National Crime Reading Month, and Paddington Library Reading Group celebrated by delving into the works of a number of our favourite contemporary authors:
Some of us felt that Dissolution by CJ Samson was worth reading for its historical details about monasticism in Tudor England, but that the overall tone and style was a bit gloomy and claustrophobic. One reader had to put the book down on more then one occasion to avoid feeling down!
Author Henning Mankell made a big impact with his award-winning novel Sidetracked, which features Inspector Kurt Wallander. The author takes the reader into his confidence and shares hints and speculation – of which the main character is unaware, so much so that one reader felt the need to leaf ahead to see what happens! The good Inspector is a likeable, thoughtful, character with whom the reader can engage and we would not want to lose him.
By contrast, Icelandic author Arnaldur Indidrason makes the reader rely solely on his hard working detective Erlendur and his colleague Sigurdur Óli for leads and insights into murders in and around Reykjavík.
In the novel Jar City, the opening passage relates the murder of an elderly man alone in his flat. [Spoiler removed!]. The author explores an interesting aspect of Icelandic society: the problems of rare genetic disease, Iceland being a country which until relatively recently was isolated from the world, which meant everybody was related to everybody else – a surefire recipe for inbreeding and its consequences.
A much lighter tone is depicted in Ian Sansom‘s novel The Norfolk Mystery, which features the eccentric and eclectic Professor Swanton Morley and his assistant Stephen Sefton, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. They travel round the country collecting information for a series of County Guides for travellers and yet find themselves solving murders at the same time.
Finally, the National Crime Reading Month website contains some fascinating blogs on what makes a criminal mind. Some speculate that an inadequate upbringing (child abuse, neglect, etc) is a factor, others point to the correlation between head injuries and behaviour changes. For example, the notorious murderer Fred West suffered head injuries in a motor cycle accident. Interesting.