Sunday, March 22, 2009


It is beautiful sunshine outside and I am sitting in the sun reading about one of my favourite detectives. 

Maxine at Petrona has a list of crime fiction cliches to avoid here. I agree many of these have had their day but I do love the clash of an insubordinate detective dealing with a slow witted superior when it is done well. Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon and now Jo Nesbo have mastered the skill of producing dialogue for the detective that teeters on the brink of rudeness.
In The Redeemer Jo Nesbo's latest novel to be translated into English Harry Hole has lost his protector Bjarne Moller and his replacement Gunnar Hagen is clearly not Harry's sort of policeman.

"But there is a third quality I prize even higher, Hole. Can you guess what it is?"
"No," Harry said in an even monotone.
"Discipline. Di-sci-pline."

Hagen goes on to lecture Harry about the Japanese conquest of Burma in 1942 based on their superior discipline, and mentions the Japanese shot soldiers who drank water outside drinking times.

"Not out of sadism, but because discipline is about excising the tumours at the outset. Am I making myself clear, Hole?"

Harry is dismissed but remains seated and Hagen asks.

"Anything else, Hole?"
"Mm, I was wondering. Didn't the Japanese lose the war?"  


Blogger Dorte H said...

Great example of Nesbø´s style :)

I tried to comment on a post here the other day, but your blog insisted I was spam or a virus. I was deeply hurt, Norman, but decided to give it a second chance (I think I have become addicted so no matter how many insults are hurled at me, I´ll probably have to return to have my fix).

9:19 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Lovely quote, Norman! How apt.

I see I have given something of the wrong impression in my post. I am not against cliches per se - of course the same plots and themes crop up in many books. I dislike it when it is done lazily, copying others without adding value. Someone who can take a cliche and make it individual, witty, etc, is doing fine so far as i am concerned.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte, FF has rejected me and this post has not appeared so I am even more hurt.

Maxine thanks I agree entirely but this Nesbo has a quotable gem virtually on every page so I had to work an excuse to post one in somehow.;o) Has the FF feed gone on strike?

Even if this novel did not have any plot I would enjoy reading about Harry Hole.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

That darn internet - calling people spam, not updating into Friend Feed!
Sometimes, for some reason, the blogs imported into FF seem to stop updating, I think it is when the people who run the site release a new bit of code or something. I'll go and "refresh" the blogs now, Norman. Sorry about that.

Indeed, some authors could write about paint drying and one would be happy to read them. However, others churn out weak copies of the last bestseller (Dan Brown copiers, Stephanie Mayer copiers, etc) and it is just such a waste when one is aware of how many talented, original authors can't get published - and the DB, SM etc imitators will be pulped soon enough because nobody will buy their books and they are too expensive to keep on the shelves.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

No problem Maxine we are just grateful that you set this brilliant forum for us in the first place.
I am always getting funny looks in book shops when I try to persuade people who can't find a Mankell they haven't read to try Indridason or Nesbo or Fossum. I am a bit of a book shop stalker. ;o)
Well you have to find something to do when you are retired. They probably end up buying a James Patterson just to get out away from the strange man.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

If I am at the Waterstone's crime fiction table I sometimes see people picking up and looking at J Patterson or P Cornwell - I have to resist the urge to grab a Scandinavian or Italian and thrust it into their hands, telling them how much better, etc. ;-)

11:58 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Norman, my humble apologies to your blog: I am going down with a nasty flu right now so the virus alert wasn´t so stupid after all :O
I´ll hide under my duvet with Maxine´s wonderful "The Coroner".

1:59 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Sorry to hear that Dorte. I wish you a swift recovery, flu can make you feel so very ill even with a good book to read.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

I must be getting to know you too well, Norman, for as I started to read this post, I said to myself, "Norman's going to quote that line about the Japanese losing the war." Perhaps not so surprising that you did indeed, for it is a gem. I'm actually about two-thirds of the way through the book. I'm not totally happy with the translation this time around -- the first fifty or so pages I thought decidedly dodgy, particulary when I had to stop to figure out the 'cooking pot' and then 'boiling pot' both meant the Sally Ann 'kettle', and pretty clunky phrases were issuing from people's mouths -- but it improved and Nesbo is so very fine that he can withstand that sort of thing. And otherwise, I agree with all the comments above. There are cliche characters, but, as you and Maxine both note, it is what is done with them that matters.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a suspicion you might come to like Hagen a bit more by the time the book ends... (I recall that I did, though I read it a while ago in proof so i hope it's not another book I'm thinking of!)

3:05 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What a wonderful exchange -- typical of why I like Nesbo.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

12:09 AM  
Blogger BurtonReview said...

Hello, found your blog in a link from the Networked Blogs on Facebook, my blog is listed there as well. ( I was just giving you a heads up that a new non-fiction book titled "The Crimes of Paris" by the Hooblers is coming out, and you may be interested. It is more about the History and evolving of French criminology. I will be hosting a giveaway for 5 copies on my blog next week, when I post my review and if interested, you need to enter! So stop by when you get a chance.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks for all the comments.
Philip said he knew I was going to quote the Japanese line. Well something rather strange happened see my next post. ????

8:09 AM  

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