I started reading crime fiction at an early age and a treasured Christmas present from my mother was a copy of HRF Keating’s Whodunit, one of the best crime fiction reference books ever written. The book was both accessible and informative and full of recommended reading for someone like me who wanted to be introduced to new crime authors and their detectives.
Intellect books as part of their ‘crime uncovered series’ have published two books focusing on the detective and the antihero. They’re companion books although reading them identified the clear inclination I have in my own reading towards the hero rather than the villain as I was on much more familiar territory with the first book Detective edited by Barry Forshaw. Thirteen case studies are presented featuring examples of British detectives (Morse, Dalgliesh), Scandinavian (Hole, Wallander) and other European (Montalbano and Adamsberg). I was familiar with all of them which meant reading the chapters great fun. I particularly enjoyed the case studies featuring my personal favourites – Morse and Dalgliesh and the more contemporary Sarah Lund and Saga Noren. The writing is accessible and informative and reminded me of why I love these characters in the first place.
Antihero was a completely different read as I was now on unfamiliar territory partly due to the strong US bias of the chosen characters. I only really know Highsmith’s Tom Ripley which was an excellent chapter. But there was enough of interest and reminded me that I really need to read some of Jim Thompson novels. It was good to see an interview with Scottish crime author, Paul Johnston, who was entertaining and articulate on the role of antihero his own novels and those of others.
The books are aimed, I assume, at an academic audience but are also readily accessible for a readership well acquainted with crime fiction through reading for pleasure. Thanks to Intellect Books for my review copies.