Thursday, April 05, 2007

Michael Dibdin dead

Just read in today's paper that crime writer Michael Dibdin has died, aged 60. Here's more about him at The Rap Sheet.

I read two or three Dibdin's crime novels about Aurelio Zen, Italian crime detective, in the mid-to-late nineties and liked all of them. Can't point a favourite, though - maybe it should be Cabal (1992, translated in Finnish as Salaseura, 1996), about Vatican's power in the Italian politics. Dibdin's novels are a good example of how one can get past the genre boundaries (meaning hardboiled vs. cozies, or even police procedural vs. psychological) and talk about the society and its effects on people. I was rather dismayed, though, that Dibdin saw it important to babble about Zen's private life and his love affairs and cooking delicious meals. (I'm not one of those who think it's essential to cook in a crime novel. I just can't figure out the connection.) That put aside, Dibdin was easily one of the best crime novelists of the nineties. Maybe I should go back and reread some of his stuff and start out some new ones. (I just know I won't have time for that in, say, 20 years from now. I'll have to check the drafts of the thriller book. Bye now. Check out these covers, though.)

6 comments:

Peter said...

You're a brave and independent soul to criticize cooking in crime novels. That takes care of good chunks of Andrea Camilleri, Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Jean-Claude Izzo and the Brunettis in Donna Leon's novels, to name a few -- and all live around the Mediterranean. Don't Grijpsta and de Gier, Martin Beck, Harry Hole or Kurt Wallander and all those other Baltic and North Sea detectives ever get the urge to whip up some nice herring or lingonberry with meatballs?

There's cooking in Helene Tursten's novels about Irene Huss, but Huss's husband does it (he's a chef). Oh, those egalitarian Swedes!
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Peter said...

I might suggest Dibdin's Cosi Fan Tutti. It's built around a gimmick, but Dibdin pulls it off with great style.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Juri said...

I was pretty bored with one Montalban novel I read some ten years back and haven't tried since. I sure won't try Camilleri, even though some people who I know to be in their right mind like the books. Izzo I haven't tried. Baltic decs drink booze, don't cook meals. Or if they do, the meals are of course extra cuisine. I couldn't care less. Food is food, crime novels are crime novels.

Peter said...

I'm not the world's biggest Montalban fan, and I think there's lots to like about Camilleri. And I'd recommend Izzo. On the one hand, his books are the most atmospheric crime fiction I've ever read. On the other, they are about far more than atmosphere. No one should pass him up just because his protagonist eats well.

On the other hand, I decided to read the opening pages of The James Deans after I read your comment. I'm hooked. I'm going to go look for a copy.


===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Juri said...

I may have confused Camilleri with some other Italian writer, am not sure.

Glad to know that Reed Farrel Coleman found a new reader. There are lots of hooks in that book.

Peter said...

I'm just finishing The Devil's Star. I can now confirm that Harry Hole does not linger over meals.
======================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com