Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This and that on crime fiction

Remembered another great detective novel:

James Reasoner: Texas Wind (very short, with some 130 pages or so in the trade paperback reprint, but very satisfactory)

Dorothy Hitchens's Sleep With Slander could also just sneak in. Margaret Millar has a private eye in her great novel, A Stranger In My Grave, but I don't really know if it's a detective novel. But that could prove Peter's point when he said in a comment:

"Why can't we agree to call everything "crime," and just be happy? That way, we would stop having to worry so much about definitions and disagreements when we make lists."

***

Finished James Hadley Chase's espionage thriller, Have This On Me (1969), late last night. Pretty much okay: the action starts at page one and doesn't let up until the latter half and then it drags a bit just before it bursts again. One of the most entertaining Chases I've read. This one features Mark Girland, an ex-CIA agent who thinks freelancing is more profitable, in Prague after 30,000 $ some soldiers have stolen.

***

Saw Akira Kurosawa's High And Low (or Taivas ja helvetti, as it's known in Finland - meaning Heaven and Hell) last night at the film archive. It's based on a 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain, I think the title of that is Ransom. I don't know if I have read that one or not - it's been years since I've read any McBains (so many years that I'm actually pretty ashamed of myself) and I don't recall the details anymore. However, the first hour of the film is pretty damn striking: Toshiro Mifune, of the Yojimbo fame (one of the truly great heroes!), plays a shoe factory owner who's into a big money. Suddenly he gets a call - his son has been kidnapped. It's soon revealed, though, that the kidnapper has the shoemaker's servant's son instead. Will Mifune pay or not? He doesn't have to, but the servant is a friend to the family and the two sons are each others' buddies. But if he pays, his business and life are ruined.

After the first half, the film, yet well made, turns into a just another police procedural, and at times too long (and the Finnish subtitles didn't translate all the dialogue, which was frustrating). The ending was pretty powerful, though. The scenery in the film is pretty ordinary, save for the first half of the film, with striking black-and-white CinemaScope (don't really know, if it's CinemaScope, maybe it's something like TohoScope) strictly inside Mifune's modern villa. Some nice touches here and there, though.

***

Okei, sanotaan jotain Huhtiniemestäkin. Tuleva romaanikirjailija minussa ajattelee oikeastaan vain sitä, että rintamalla -44 tehtiin myös ufo-havaintoja.

4 comments:

jurtti said...

Rintamalla -44 nähtiin varmasti yhtä sun toista. Silmittömät löylytykset ja ekstraterrestiaalin väliintulo kieltämättä kuulostavat yhdessä mielenkiintoiselta ;)

Todd Mason said...

What ?he? said (Jurrti). Or not. But I also found dull stretches in HIGH AND LOW, but also found it worth seeing (rather similarly, ANATOMY OF A MURDER)...and I've yet to read a McBain that I'm satisfied with.

Peter said...

I liked Kurosawa's Stray Dog better than High and Low or The Bad Sleep Well. Re Ed McBain, I've read two, one whose title I can't recall, and Nocturne. The latter was highly satisfying.

Regarding what's a crime novel and what isn't, I recently posted on my blog about that guilty pleasure Modesty Blaise.

========================

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"

Juri said...

The Stray Dog was quite good, as I recall. Very noirish.

I tried, by the way, translate what Jurtti said (if Todd's paying attention at all), but it didn't go through. It's about some war-time secrets that are being revealed here in Finland. And I thought it just could have something to do with UFOs that were sighted in 1944, just about the same time with the secrets that have taken place.