Thursday, November 18, 2004

Intriguing Story of the Week?

Last Wednesday, returning from the weekly University of Southampton Creative Writing Society meeting, I stopped off in a bookshop. I do this a lot, of course. Stop off in bookshops, I mean. Books are my therapy, my comfort. In the past 3 days I have bought six (time to kill and a student loan to spend!) Indeed, I am spending far too much on books - the TBR is going to topple soon. Maybe it will crush me under its weight, and I will be buried in a coffin of unread books. I digress... I stopped off in a bookshop. I bought Sara Paretsky's Blacklist (now it's won the Dagger I have to read it to make sure it shouldn't have), and Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas, one of a series from France. (At the moment, if it comes from Mainland Europe, I buy it without hesitation.) Firstly, I was surprised to see the author biog describe Vargas as a she, but that's neither here nor there.

All of this is by of introducing an article from today's Guardian, about Vargas's outspoken support for an Italian crime-writer resident in France who is to be extradited on four murder charges (well, if they can find him). As a result, her phones are monitored and she is followed by the intelligence serivces (well, so she claims - the article doesn't exactly provide proof). Anyway, yes, this is my favourite story of the week so far. And I probably wouldn't have bothered to read it if I hadn't bought her book just a few days ago.

More links: Ruth Rendell's The Rottweiler is reviewed by The Seattle Times and The Washington Post this week, and the lady herself is subject to a nice interview in the Ottawa Citizen, which provides the news that she is currently working on a new Wexford story that is, as they are increasingly becoming, "starkly topical". (She also admits, tellingly, her disappointment that the series novels sell far, far better than her others (I share this disappointment - neither her latest paperback or hardback made it onto the bestseller lists), and I'd like to suggest that there probably won't be too many more of them, preferring, as she does, to write the others.)

I'd also like to point out, thought, that the Post review is a load of crap. Veering towards rather mocking praise though it does, the fact that the reviewer says:

No one gets hurt in Ruth Rendell's world. No one feels the pain of loss or the bite of evil. No one feels one little goose bump of fear. Rendell is a tremendously popular novelist because nothing bad ever happens in her books. The dead bodies tend to be people whose names we never caught.

leads me to suspect that Ms See has never read a Rendell book before in her life.It would be technically possible to say things about her books that are less true, but you'd be hards-pressed to do it.

*Also, Harriet Waugh is back at The Spectator, reviewing some of the latest crime fiction. She's disappointed with the latest by Ian Rankin and Henning Mankell, which is surprising (though she makes some very valid points about the Mankell). Not reviewing Ruth Rendell this year, Spectator? That's a bit odd, I must say. The Guardian and Independet haven't, either, which surprises me again, considering that, 40th anniversary n' all, I would imagine she'd be all over the place this year.