Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Thanks to Craig at Crime Watch for the news that the quest to decide the World's Favourite Detective at Jen's Book Thoughts has ended with victory for Harry Bosch over Philip Marlowe.
I find it interesting that both of these popular fictional detectives are named after historical characters.

Raymond Chandler was educated at Dulwich College, where the athletic houses are named after Tudor and Stuart era characters, Grenville, Sidney, Drake, Raleigh, Spenser and Marlowe.
Christopher Marlowe[1564-1593] was an English dramatist and poet of that period whose plays included Dr Faustus and The Jew of Malta.

Michael Connelly named his detective after Hieronymus Bosch [1450-1516], a Dutch painter whose highly detailed and very moral works are crowded with half-human, half-animal creatures and grotesque demons.

Surprisingly at a time when crime fiction novels are located all over the world the two favourite detectives, Bosch and Marlowe, both worked in Los Angeles. Does this mean the best crime fiction writing is still coming from the USA?
My own A-Z of crime fiction featured 10 items from British writers, 6 items from the American writers [including one Chinese-American and one American living in Brazil], two items from Italy, two from Sweden, and one each from Norway, Iceland, Poland, Denmark, South Africa, and Algeria.
I did not realise I had been so parochial is picking 10 British writers.

Which country is now producing the "best" crime fiction?
If there was a prize, a World Cup of Crime Fiction, which country would win? Some people might say there are a plethora of prizes in crime fiction already, but why not one more just for fun.
The genre that writers from England, Scotland and the USA, with a little help from Georges Simenon virtually invented, is now seeing such an influx of good crime fiction from other countries that I would not like to bet on a winner, unless I knew the judges.
If each country had to select two or three current writers to represent them in a Crime Fiction World Cup I would suggest that Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Australia, France, Ireland and Italy might be strong contenders to defeat the old favourites England, Scotland and the USA.
What do you think? Who would you have to represent your country?
Some people will have worked that I would much rather read your comments even if they are totally dismissive of my idea than the ludicrous election material being stuffed into our letterbox on behalf of candidates we have not heard from since ................ the last election.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - What an intriguing idea! A world cup of crime fiction! Hmm....I think I'll have a think about that before directly addressing your question. There are really good U.S. crime writers I might nominate for the "team," but my problem is, there are so many crime writers from other countries whose work I truly admire that I couldn't root against them...

11:38 AM  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

Fantastic idea Norman. Like the football world Cup, NZ would be a minnow on the world scene, although perhaps more like how our athletes perform at the Summer Olympics - I think we would punch above our weight, so to speak, and do better than our size (population and geographic) and the tyranny of distance from the major markets, would suggest.

If you are just picking the best from each country, it would still be hard to beat the US or UK (so many more writers to choose from, so their 'team' of top ones should be very strong) - but then again, it it's more about overall strength, they of course have far more mediocre crime writers as well...

Certainly a discussion and debate worth having - perhaps bloggers could suggest a 'team' of writers to represent their country, profiling them and arguing why they're good representatives - that could be fun.

Another option, is to break the US up (e.g. LA writing, New York writing, Midwestern writing, Southern writing etc) - because they are almost like different countries anyway...

Great thought-provoking post Norman.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Craig. I think smaller teams would help smaller countries, but I know what you mean about NZ punching above their weight.
In 1967 I met Waka Nathan and Earl Kirton, All Blacks way before your time and they were tough looking guys even in those amateur days.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

What an intriguing idea Norm. In footballing terms Scotland are...errrrr...not brilliant. I think we would fare much better in a crime fiction tournament. I enjoy crime fiction from all over the globe, and am always excited to see a new country represented (just as I was excited by the performance of Roger Milla and Cameroon in the 1990 (?) football world cup :o)

10:36 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Donna, I certainly had Scotland as one of the crime fiction favourites with a mid field of Val McDermid, Denise Mina, and yourself along with Ian Rankin and Philip Kerr as strikers. You could be managed from the other side by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. ;o)
I had thought Spain to be favourites for the real World Cup, but now that Fernando Torres has decided to copy me and have knee surgery I am not so sure.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Oh, this is difficult. Ten years, I would definitely have said England. Five years ago I might have found it difficult to choose between England and Sweeden, and what am I going to do now when I have read and loved so many Scottish crime novels?

So for now, three finalists from me; England, Scotland, Sweden (with Norway as a fourth suggestion).

9:06 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

It is difficult Dorte, and Scotland would be very strong especially if they could "bring back" Arthur Conan Doyle. But what about France and their International Dagger All Stars [Fred Vargas, Tonino Benaquista and Dominique Manotti] or Italy [Andrea Camilleri, Massimo Carlotto and Gianrico Carofiglio]?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

It may be because I have not tried enough of them, but I certainly prefer British and Scandinavian novels over French and Italian.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Norm - I think I would be more of a hooker...oh, wait, that's the wrong game, isn't it? :o) For the Scottish team I'm going for a 4-3-3 formation.

For my attack I'm going for three relative up-and-comers - Allan Guthrie and Tony Black as my terrier-like wingers, with Helen Fitzgerald as centre forward. My defensive midfielder is William McIlvaney and my two attacking midfielders are Philip Kerr and Russel McLean. In defence - Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride and Christopher Brookmyre - good, solid players who can always be relied on to protect the goal (and, on occasion, hack a few of the opposing team's strikers). In goal Ray Banks. He's tall. Loads on the subs bench - they'll definitely get a game at some point in the tournament. Managed ably by Conan Doyle and Denise Mina.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte I am sure you would like Carofiglio or Camilleri and an author i forgot Carlo Lucarelli's Inspector Grazia Negro's series.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Donna that defence looks good and those wingers!
Your remark about hookers reminded me of my US Presidents rugby team. I had to think of something while I drilled away in my surgery.

Props: Taft and Harding, big fat boys
Hooker- Bill Clinton, vast experience in the position

second rows: Lincoln and Andrew Jackson useful height there

flankers: Eisenhower, Jefferson,
No8: Teddy Roosevelt
That is a powerful back row

scrum half- a tricky runner in Dick Nixon
fly half- the general of the team George Washington
wings: GHW Bush, and Jack Kennedy real athletes
crash tackling centres:Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford
full back: Ronald Reagan

You have to understand rugby to know how well this team might perform. Dick Nixon might never put the ball straight into the scrum.
Now days we would have to find a place for Barack Obama, perhaps taking Bush seniors place on the wing.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Jay Stringer said...

Donna's Scotland team would be pretty impressive.

I'd pay to see that.

4:52 AM  

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