Sunday, January 24, 2010


Martin Edwards at Do You Write Under Your Own Name mentioned recently that in the Swedish Wallander TV series Krister Henriksson was superb as Wallander, but it was the excellent supporting cast of Johanna Sallstrom as Linda, and Ola Rapace as Stefan that really made the series.
The theme of co-operative teamwork in a police procedural was also mentioned by Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders in relation to his first foray into the Martin Beck series, Roseanna.

The concept of having a team of characters allows the author much greater scope in delving into the personal lives of the protagonists and contrast their lives and investigative techniques.
All investigators have their strengths, for instance in the Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteries, one of my favourite team police procedural series, Catarella is not the sharpest pencil in the box.

'Hey, Cat, you still there?'
'Yes, sir , Chief, I ain't budged. I'm still here. I's jes thinkin'.'
A good three minutes passed.
'Try to think a little faster,Cat.'
[from Excursion to Tindari]

But when it comes to computers, and having friends who are useful, Catarella is an ace performer.

'Cat, do you know you are brilliant?'
'For as how the way I 'splained what that Dr Latte wit' an s at the end said?'
'No, because you managed to open the second file.'
'Ahhh, Chief! I straggled all night wit' it! You got no idea what kinda trouble I had! 'It was a past word that looked like one past word but rilly was --'
'Tell me about it later, Cat.'
[from The Paper Moon]

This is one of the outstanding teams in crime fiction with Catarella, Mimi Augello, Fazio, and Swedish blonde Ingrid, when Montalbano needs some fast driving, all featuring regularly in the books.

As a team they are possibly up there with Sjowall and Wahloo's Martin Beck, Lennart Kollberg, Gunvar Larsson, Einar Ronn and Benny Skacke, or Ed McBain's Steve Carella, Bert Kling, Meyer Meyer, Cotton Hawes and Arthur Brown.

Which is your favourite team of more than three detectives in a crime fiction series? Do you like the same detective to feature as the lead in each book, or do you like a variation in who plays the major part in an investigation?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - You are right; "teamwork" stories can be terrific. They allow for all sorts of interactions and they allow the author to develop all sorts of sub-plots besides the "main" murder plot. I do like Ed McBain's 87th Precinct team, so I'm glad you mentioned them. I also like Dell Shannon's Luis Mendoza series. In many ways, it's dated, but they're compelling novels just the same.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Team work is just so much more credible!

A team I like very much is NesserĀ“s team in the Van Veeteren series.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot, I don't know the Luis Mendoza series I must look that up.
Years ago a friend was an Ed McBain fanatic and he passed on all the books to me, but since I moved to Devon I have drifted away from the 87th Precinct. Posting about this has reminded me how much I enjoyed them and I will have to catch up with Carella and company.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

My excuse for not having heard of the Luis Mendoza series is that I was rather busy during the 1960s when the books were first published.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - I think lots of people were busy during the 60's and 70's when those Mendoza books were published.... ; )

3:18 PM  
Blogger Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I cut my adult crime fiction reading on Luis Mendoza. I read as many as I could get, all completely out of order so the family size would grow and shrink.

I recently suggested Nesser to a borrower who'd ran out of Camilleris. He didn't get on with the Wallander books but liked the tv series and I thought Nesser would be a bit lighter!

2:35 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

With recommendations from Karen and Margot I must find Luis Mendoza books.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte I also love the Van Veeteren team and more Hakan Nessers need to be translated into English.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Yes I know.

Norman, I have an award for you.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Dorte. :o)

9:28 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Teamwork is interesting - I love the teamwork books you mention (must discover this Mendoza, though!) - but my heart is with the lone maverick, I have to say.
Although Wallender, Montalbano, Huss and others work in teams, the appeal of them to me is the individual, who somehow transcends the team but without being unrealistically "heroic" in the Hollywood sense. Erlunder (Arnaldur Indridason) is the epitome of this- he has a team, but takes increasingly little and less notice of it as the books progress.

Similarly, Mari Jungstedt writes about a team but the only one who really comes into focus is the protag, Knutas.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine, I'd never even heard of Mendoza and we find out that Karen and Margot are fans.
I am learning that I have a lot to learn.;o)
I agree about Erlendur although I still have to read Hypothermia.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I endorse the choice of Nesser's Van Veeteren and his colleagues. We who read only English might be missing even more emphasis in the team approach, as his colleague Muneter's name figures in the Swedish title of one of the books not yet available in English.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

8:11 PM  

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