Watchers of Time and A Finer End
In the 25 years of
my assiduous application to the genres of crime mystery, and suspense
fiction, I have eventually been able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
And there are only a score of totally reliable mystery authors in the
English language to my mind today.
I will confess that I have a marked preference for female British mystery
authors; Frances Fyfield; (aka; Frances Hegarty) Alison Taylor (no relation
to Andrew Taylor, who is also very reliable and accomplished) and of course,
Ruth Rendall (aka: Barbara Vine). The U.K.s Bill James is also a
And primarily, I can recommend male American mystery novelists (Jon A.
Jackson, Lawrence Block, Carl Hiaasen, Andrew Klavan, Jeffrey Deaver,
Both Charles Todd (Watchers of Time; 2001) and Deborah Crombie (A Finer
End, 2001) are Americans who have set their series of novels in the British
Isles. Both are largely convincing in the verisimilitude as ersatz Britons.
Bantam; ISBN: 0553583166
is the fifth Ian Rutledge novel set in the aftermath of WW1. Inspector
Rutledge, of Scotland Yard, is a severely traumatized hero of The
Great War. So much so he hourly battles with his demons; particularly
the "ghost" of Corporal Hamish MacLeod; his imaginary
"friend/foe". Rutledge was obliged to have MacLeod executed
by firing squad. "Hamish" serves as the inspectors
"conscience" and as his goad to move incessantly in the
avid pursuit of justice. Watchers of Time is a very vivid, highly
atmospheric novel of "ideas", as well as suspense".
For me the lure of mystery fiction is three-fold. To wit: its practitioners;
at their finest create exceptionally imaginative plots; memorable
characters (of "todays" world most often) and dramatise
powerfully major events and moral quandaries that inevitably affect
all of our lives: life, death. Justice, retribution and every manner
of passionate engagement with existence per se.
For instance, Jon A Jacksons Deadman and Edward Bunkers
Dog Eat Dog are novels worthy respectively of such masters as Elmore
Leonard and Chester Himes; let alonge Grahame Greene and Fyodor
Finer End, the 7th in Deborah Crombies Detective-Superintendent
Duncan Kincaid/Sergeant Gemma James series, set in contemporary
Britain is the superlative American novelists most ambitious
book. It delves persuasively into the mysticism of early British
clerics and into the mythology of Christianitys introduction
to the British Isles. Thus, A Finer End, verges upon the abstruse
territories so persuasively explored by exemplary U.K. "fanatasy"
novelist, Robert Holdstock.
Charles Todd cross-pollinates the war and police-procedural genres
in each of his five books. Deborah Crombie fertilizes the Agatha
Christie canon with that of Dennis Wheatley here very successfully.
And these two elegant storytellers are not at all British; except
in their minds; which is all that matters in the final analysis.
© Alex Grant August 2002
Alex Grant's Review of Clint Eastwood's New Movie
Work is both casual and classic, akin to the astutely pared-down films
of both Howard Hawks and Sam Fuller'.
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