A shot of crime
I’m slowly making my way through a backlog of crime fiction novels that have occupied my bookshelves for a few months. It’s not a genre I read that regularly because although I enjoy them at the time, they are the books I never remember after I finish them.
I’m going to forsake new purchases but I still have a few on the shelves for those times when crime novels fit the need perfectly (like when I have a heavy cold and the brain can’t deal with anything deep and meaningful). It’s unlikely I will ever find myself with unable to satisfy a sudden desire for crime – my local library is wall to wall with these kinds of novels.
Here are two of my most recent reads.
Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude (British Library Crime Classics)
This is the second of Bude’s novels to feature the modest but highly effective Superintendent Meredith. The tightly-plotted tale begins with the disappearance of a Sussex farmer and the discovery of his abandoned car. Initially it appears he might have been kidnapped but when human bones are found in the Sussex Downs, police quickly realise they have a murderer on the loose.
Superintendent Meredith is called to investigate and painstakingly unravels the mystery of the bones. His is a very civilised form of detection, relying on systematic evaluation of evidence and oodles of double checking of facts. In between chasing down details about a cloaked man seen striding the downs on the night of the farmer’s disappearance, a fake telegram and a butterfly catcher who wears sunglasses at night, the Super is able to pop home for a sustaining lunch with his wife.
John Bude has a good eye for locational details and an ability to plot meticulously. In keeping with the spirit of the Golden Age of Fiction, we get the very helpful explanation at the end of the book of how the crime was committed. Without this I admit I was struggling to keep all the different clues straight in my head.
This probably isn’t the kind of crime novel for people who love the gritty Nordic Noir style, but it’s still highly enjoyable. I warn you though, it does require focused concentration to follow the trail of clues.
The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer
This is a dark and intense psychological novel that does a brilliant job of getting inside the head of a serial killer. Eve Singer is an ambitious young TV crime reporter who is accustomed to getting close to the scenes of murder so she can be first with the news. But she has never before been the target of a killer.
She needs death in order to keep her job. The killer needs her to broadcast to the world how beautiful death can be. What Eve realises too late is that his obsession for public exhibitions of death will involve her own.
Usually I find the portraits of journalists in novels are highly unrealistic but Bauer, has a former reporter, writes convincingly about the world of television news and the pressure to get the story, no matter what. Eve is caught between the demands of her bully news editor and the obsessive killer, forcing her to make uncomfortable moral decisions.
I don’t understand why Bauer hasn’t had the attention enjoyed by other thriller writers. Every book I’ve read by her has been first class, well written and well plotted with fleshed out characters and taut storylines. The Beautiful Dead is no exception.
12 thoughts on “A shot of crime”
If you enjoy crime or detective novels by journalists, you should check out Gwen Florio, who was the main reporter in the Missoula (Montana) college rape cases. She writes fiction. I learned about her when I read the non-fiction book Missoula by Jon Krakauer.
That sounds like a very Welsh name.
I did not know that! She lives in Montana. http://gwenflorio.net
Probably had welsh ancestors many generations back
I usually feel glad that I don’t have to remember a mystery/crime novel any longer than it takes me to write it up for the blog.
It explains why I sometimes end up reading the same book twice but not realising it until part way through
I like Bude’s books – always a solid, reliable read and even if they rely on the meticulous over the mercurial they’re still fun. And as you say, ideal for when the brain needs a little light entertainment!
They are among the better offerings from the British Library collection
I have one of Belinda Bauer’s books on my readers wishlist so she’s crossed my eye before. I hope to form my own opinion too some day 😊. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed your read!
Which do you have Inge? Ive read Badlands and Rubbernecker
I have Rubbernecker on my readlist and I completely forgot but I read Darkside already. It wasn’t a fav read though 😟.
I thnk Rubbernecker was my first one…