Tuesday, February 06, 2007

British & US procedurals...and a third way

Perry Middlemiss, in a review of Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta by Marshall Browne, makes an interesting general observation about British and US police procedurals before moving on to the particulars of the novel at hand:

There is a theory, to which I am becoming more and more attuned, that tension in British and US police procedural crime novels is created in two, very different ways. In the US version, the main protagonist fights the bulk of his battles with other branches of the justice machinery: if he works in homicide, then the FBI tries to interfere, and if he works for the Justice Department then it's likely to be a local detective that gets under his feet and in his way - Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch is an excellent example of this. Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus, on the British side of the equation, has no such external agencies getting in his way. He has to work against his superiors, acting as an outsider to their bureaucratic inertia. Rebus is considered a maverick by his bosses, while Bosch is looked upon almost as a star by his.

There is, by implication, a third way: a pan-continental approach that uses tensions within and across countries, and between varying political forces, both legal and illegal. I have come across very few of these novels outside the purely "spy thriller" genre, such as Forsyth's Day of the Jackal. Few straight-forward mystery novels attempt to tackle the tensions listed above; whether for wont of material or ambition I'm not sure. So it is with a genuine sense of interest and the prospect of a new direction that we can approach the Inspector Anders novels of Melbourne writer Marshall Browne.

We first met the Italian inspector in The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders in 1999, which was followed by Inspector Anders and the Ship of Fools in 2001. And we now have the third novel in the series, one to be savoured.

Read the entire review and, if you aren't already familiar with it, poke around Perry's quality site.

--Marshal Zeringue