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Crime fiction

Crime fiction is the genre of fiction that deals with crimes, their detection, criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred.

Book review: <i>Tourist Season</i> by Carl Hiaasen



If this was a film, it would be Miami Blues, starring Sir Alec Baldwin.

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Book review: <i>Chart Throb</i> by Ben Elton



If this was about Big Brother, rather than UK Idol, and marginally less sucky, it would be called Dead Famous, the author's previous literary nadir.

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Book review: <i>Speak Ill Of The Dead</i> by Mary Jane Maffini



Meet Camilla MacPhee, crotchety, cat-hating, legal representative for victims, who winds up representing a murder defendant. It wasn’t a bad yarn, but I only read it a week or so ago and I’ve already forgotten the particulars. It passed the time, but it has a general sense of ho-hum about it. What I do remember was that the story didn’t take itself too seriously, which is a good quality.

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Book review: <i>The Wire In The Blood</i> by Val McDermid



This may be Val McDermid’s most famous book—it’s been widely acclaimed and televised, and as I recall it was a big hit on the Australian ABC when it came out as a mini series. And I can see why. It has a touch of Thomas Harris about it; macabre, graphic, tense, thrilling... but I thought The Wire In The Blood beat Silence Of The Lambs hands down.

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Book review: <i>The Return Of The Dancing Master</i> by Henning Mankell



I was pleasantly surprised by The Return Of The Dancing Master. I guess from the cover I was expecting a pulp thriller of the most noxious and basic kind, with a name selected for whimsy and to sucker in people like me. What I DIDN’T look at was the author’s name... Henning Mankell. Turns out he’s Swedish. Who knew? Anyway, more to the point, the book was actually originally written in Swedish, and then translated into English. Which gives the whole experience less of a thriller feeling and more of a smugly-reading-foreign-text feeling. Which was nice.

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Book review: <i>Dirty Tricks</i> by Michael Dibdin



As I have stated unequivocally in many a previous review, I do love British novels. The crime thriller ones have a sort of depth and an element of class to them that is undiscovered to all but the best of American authors. Maybe it’s because mysteries seem like things that should happen in the rain and fog and gloom and these things all happen naturally in the United Kingdom. I think it’s also that sly, dry wit that British authors seem born with. That ability to make fun of oneself and the world. Australians have it too, but the Americans are just all a bit too serious. With these profound thoughts in mind, Dirty Tricks is no exception to an excellent display of British wit, and once again proves the rule—those Brits know what they’re on about when they write a good suspense yarn.

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Book review: <i>The Black Dahlia</i> by James Ellroy



The Black Dahlia and the last book I reviewed, Eureka, have some interesting superficial similarities. Firstly, they are both set, for at least part of the time, in the mid 1940s. They are both set in Los Angeles during that time. The protaganist in both is a police officer (both are written mainly in the first person) and the plot line in both focuses on the death of a woman which the protaganist gets a bit obsessive about and is willing to go above and beyond to solve the mystery. However, for all the similarities, Eureka and The Black Dahlia couldn't be more different when it comes to the crunch. Why? Because that would be like comparing a dry cracker to a three course meal.

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Book review: <i>Eureka</i> by William Diehl



Eureka: where the California dream turns to deadly nightmare...

Pah-leeze. Who’s he trying to kid? More like Eureka: dull, plodding, took too long to get into the plot and when it did it was a bit of a let down... And the early 1900’s both-world-wars ambience didn’t really do much to improve matters in this trite and utterly standard saga replete with the wild west, whorehouses, and whodunit shoot’em mystery. I realise the man is famed for Primal Fear, but I think that is more famous thanks to Edward Norton than William Diehl’s writing skill, and Eureka didn’t even have the obligatory gore to keep the reader mildly interested.

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Book review: <i>No Trace</i> by Barry Maitland



No Trace by Barry Maitland is a just a cut above in the crime fiction genre. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s English. Maybe it’s the fact there are so many substandard, poorly written, just-out-to-snare-a-movie-script competitors to compare him to. Maybe it’s the feeling that you are reading something almost literary. Maybe it’s the smart-looking, glossy cover. Whatever it is, No Trace was a relief to read.

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