(This is the first in a series of two reviews on new British mysteries.)
Compare an American to a British mystery, and one always gets a stronger sense of place in the latter. While the American detective zips around one crime scene to another in less than a sentence, the British detective will walk you through the journey with a full paragraph’s worth of cobbled stones, biting winds, and stale smells from chippies shops and takeaways. Just in case you had any doubt that this was not Britain, there would mentions of watery tea at every other interrogation.
This sense of place is perhaps one of the charms of British mysteries. Established author Peter May exploits the dark and chilling atmosphere of the real-life Scottish Isle of Lewis for an edgy read. Edinburgh’s Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is sent back to his island hometown to investigate a suspected copycat murder. During the investigation, he is forced to confront the people he had run away from and the memories he tried to keep hidden. As new information emerges, Fin has to resurrect his memories to complete the puzzle.
May’s evocative sentences and nuanced characterization make The Blackhouse a gripping story. Look out for its sequel, The Lewis Man, coming in first quarter 2012.
The Black House
Author: Peter May
Publisher:London: Quercus, 2011
Call No.: English MAY- [MY]
If you like this, try these other British mysteries:
Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus. The sense of place makes you feel like you were walking the streets of Edinburgh with Rebus. This series has 17 titles, with the last Rebus novel, Exit Music, published in 2007.
Author: Ian Rankin
Publisher:London: Orion Books, 2007
Call No.: English RAN -[MY]
Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse. Morse’s stomping ground is the university city of Oxford. Dexter deftly conveys the many facets of Oxford, be it the oak-panelled studies of the university, or the linoleum-lined parlours of the man on the street. This series has 13 titles, with the last Morse novel, The Remorseful Day, published in 1999. There is also a TV adaptation of the series by British TV channel ITV.
The Remorseful Day
Publisher: London: Macmillian, 1999
Call No.:English DEX- [MY]
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Contributed by Tan Wen Sze, Librarian, Public Libraries Singapore