The first post

This is my first post on my new blog and rather than cover all aspects of crime fiction that interests me, in my first post I want to focus on one passion of mine. I’m a crime fiction reviewer for the excellent website crimesquad.com. There’s never a shortage of books to read but I like to intersperse my reading with my love of authors from the golden age of crime fiction. This doesn’t just mean reading the so-called ‘armchair’ detectives. There was a lot of good stuff written between 1920 and 1960 much of which is now sadly neglected.

If you look on this month’s crimesquad.com website, the classic crime section is dedicated to the writer Arthur Upfield. I chose Upfield because he showed that crime fiction didn’t just belong to the English country houses nor to the mean streets of LA. Instead the action is rooted in the landscape of the Australian outback with its traditions and idiosyncracies. I can still pick up the odd Upfield cheaply from second-hand bookshops although a recent dealer told me that he is now becoming collectable. In fact I was outbid on a couple of books this week on e-bay.

I’ve just finished reading my latest find – The Clue of the New Shoe. This edition was published in 1952 and the front cover is everything that I want from a period crime novel – vibrant, lurid and placing me in a period that has long vanished. I have a particular fondness for Pan crime fiction as I grew up reading their Agatha Christie editions. I can’t see a front cover from that series without it taking me right back to my teenage years.

And taking of images, it took me a while to decide on my choice of blog header. Crime, such a popular subject in literature, is rarely portrayed in the art world. This a rare exception, a section from The Murder by Paul Cezanne. I like the fact that you can see the perpetrator’s face, not the victim’s.  More on this in a future post.

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8 thoughts on “The first post

  1. It’s quite fascinating to find out there are loads of Arthur Upfield fans “out there” as I’m not one myself despite being an Aussie and a crime fiction junkie. I can remember reading my first one and thinking it terribly dated and bordering on cringe-worthy (dialogue especially) though I was pretty young then. But I’ve tried several times over the years to read the stories and I just can’t get into them at all. I think one of the reasons is their placement in the Australian outback (which I realise is probably the thing that everyone likes)…this country is obsessed with celebrating all things ‘outback’ and it’s tiresome after a while. 90% of us don’t live anywhere near the outback and never have done yet almost our entire cultural identity stems from it (as a school kid I never knew there was any Australian poetry other than bush poetry of the Henry Lawson kind). I think I have simply read all the stories I ever want to read about living in the outback and I’m afraid I’m never going to be a fan of Upfields 🙂

    • Thanks Bernadette for your comments. There does seem to be an Arthur Upfield resurgence here in the UK so it is good to hear an Australian’s view on his writing. I would like to read more modern Australian crime fiction. I have read Peter Temple and in fact his new book is out in the UK next month. Are there any Aussie women crime writers you would recommend?

  2. Oh there’s lots…among my favourite novels of the last year or so have been

    P M Newton’s OLD SCHOOL (set in early 90’s Sydney but with a historical thread too) (the P is for Pam)

    Kathryn Fox’s DEATH MASK (featuring a very up to date look at sporting subcultures and how sports stars seem to have different rules to live by than the rest of us – this one is set in both Australia and the US)

    Angela Savage’s THE HALF CHILD is also excellent though set in Thailand rather than Australia (though the main character is an expat Aussie)

    I also really like Katherine Howell’s series which feature a police woman detective in Sydney and a different paramedic in each book (Howell was a paramedic before turning to writing). Actually if you spend a bit of time googling you might be able to enter a competition we’re running at Fair Dinkum Crime to win a copy of Howell’s latest book – entries open until next Monday over at http://fairdinkumcrime.com which is the all Aussie crime fiction blog I host with a fellow Aussie crime fiction junkie the quiz/giveaway is at http://fairdinkumcrime.com/2011/09/24/the-fair-dinkum-quiz-2/

    And hopefully you’ll find some Aussie crime fiction that piques your curiosity at the blog too 🙂

  3. Welcome to the crime fiction blogging community! Please do also join our discussions at Friend Feed http://friendfeed.com/list/crime-and-mystery (your blog can post into there if you like). Some of those Aussie authors recommended by Bernadette are not available in the UK but Katherine Howell is and I do recommend her novels. As for classic crime – my favourite is Dashiell Hammett 😉

    • Thanks Maxine for the welcome and for the friendfeed suggestion. I am new to the blogging community and it’s great how many helpful comments I am getting. I have some Dashiell Hammett unread on my bookshelves. I will investigate him sometime.

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