|Like this but with more air|
There was a weird taste in my mouth and my eyeballs felt like they'd had a team of 1950s housewives scrubbing them with bleach throughout the night.
"What the hell did I read last night?" I wondered.
I lurched over to my desktop, dog trailing worriedly behind, and pounded on my computer with clenched fists until Goodreads appeared.
"Ah," said I. "Of course. That explains so much."
The book was, of course, Talking about Detective Fiction by J.D James.
On first glance, you wouldn't think that such a slim, delicately worded essay could pack a punch that would leave a full-grown adult on their back for three hours (I may have taken a nap somewhere in between). James deftly covers the history of the detective novel with in-depth chapter essays such as:
- How is Sherlock Holmes so Awesome?
- Stop Ragging on Agatha Christie Please
- People Who Don't Like Detective Novels - What is Up With Them?
- Why is Wallander So Sad?
(I paraphrase. Wildly)
I picked this up after a conversation with a co-worker who walked by holding an armful of Kate Ellis mysteries.
"Oh, they're nothing. Just a few mysteries," she said dismissively.
"Ohh!" I replied. "I love murder."
"Reading about murder. I love reading about murder. Because obviously there is no such thing as a good murder. Murder is bad. Murder is a crime that is awful. Except for that guy in Murder in the Vicarage. He was a jerk. Even if he was played by Derek Jacobi in the Geraldine McEwan television adaptation. I am not a psychopath. I have a certificate in my wallet."
|Murdering him is okay. Narratively. Please don't murder Sir Derek Jacobi, CBE, National Treasure|
Detective fiction is important and complex and no mystery aficionado should be ashamed of enjoying a good (literary) murder. You are in good company: W.H Auden (poet with an impressive Wikipedia page) was a detective novel addict.
P.D James is a lady who knows what she is talking about. There is so much meat in this book that you will be overwhelmed with thoughts the next time you step into the library's mystery section. If you know someone in your life who scoffs at Scarpetta, jokes about Quintin Jardine or despairs about Dalgliesh, take this book and throw it at their head.
I gonna go take a couple of aspirins, some Tolkien and read this one off.