I admit that the TV version of the sleuth sticks in my mind more than the description in the promotional copy on the back of one of the earlier books, “The lonely, sex-preoccupied, intelligent, relentless, beer-drinking Inspector Morse…” and indeed, in the books he is all of those things and they must have cleaned him up a bit for TV. We should have a new sub-genre of British detective novels and that should be the dysfunctional detective. Of course, when I bring most British detectives to mind, there seems to be something dysfunctional or quirky about all of them. Maybe their poor social skills or awkward background are the things that make them good detectives.
I currently own and re-read many of my childhood favorite fantasy tales. Some, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, stand the test of time as fantasy, but have taken on a much different meaning as I now understand the heavy religious imagery, which I didn’t at the time I originally read it. I can’t really say if it makes the book better or worse. I’m a different person than I was when I read them the first time around and I still enjoy them.
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman is more than just Harry Potter Goes to College, although that is an apt description. I can’t imagine any current or future novel set in a magical school not being compared to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter in some way. She may not have created the genre, but she wrote such an impactful series of books that Harry Potter will be the touchstone to which all others in the genre are compared. Much like LOTR is generally held as the standard for quest style fantasy fiction.
Is it Science Fiction? Fantasy? Romance? Detective Noir? How about all of the above? The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is an amazing amalgamation of genres. Definitely a story of redemption and hope, the novel follows the trials and tribulations of homicide detective Meyer Landsman as he attempts to solve the mystery of the murder of a man who looks to be a typical hotel drunkard, at the end of his rope. The type of person someone like Meyer Landsman might identify with. Divorced, down on his luck and mostly drunk, Meyer sees that the end of his world is fast approaching and he wonders if the changes are worth sticking around for. Then this case begins to spark his interest, his ex-wife returns as his boss and he realizes life can’t be found in the bottom of a bottle of Slivovitz.
There are a number of people making suggestions for what you might read to fill the void while George R.R. Martin continues to turn out his Game of Thrones series of books. For the suggestions below, anyone who reads fantasy has probably already encountered these. I did try to go back a few years (to keep with the theme of this blog), to find some possibly forgotten gems. However, if GOT is your first foray into fantasy, then the books below are of a similar genre. I am not going to recommend that you read The Lord of The Rings. That recommendation would be from people who think all fantasy is the same thing. Certainly, LOTR is the master of its genre and I’d encourage you to read it whether or not you are a fan of GOT. Although the movie version has definite parallels to GOT, the books are really of a different mindset and more focused on the development of smaller characters than a larger dynastic succession.
As you look at the cover, you realize that Cordelia’s Honor is part of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. This book is comprised of two separate yet extremely connected novels, Shards of Honor and Barrayar (published 5 years apart) which tell the story of how Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan meet. As part of a series, you may struggle momentarily with whether or not you should read this book first as it was published later than several other of the Vorkosigan novels. These two stories, no matter what their publication dates, can easily be labeled as prequels and what order you read them in is entirely up to you.
Joe Abercrombie continues the tale of Logen Ninefingers and his quest to be a better man. Although this may look to be a stand alone novel, you truly need to have read The First Law Trilogy (for the history of Logen and Nicomo Cosca) and Best Served Cold for more on Cosca as well as the origins of Caul Shivers.
Before the mystery even starts, we know that Lord Peter Wimsey is an eccentric man of particular care. On leaving to begin the investigation he says, “I knew a man once, Parker, who let a world-famous poisoner slip through his fingers because the machine on the Underground took nothing but pennies. There was a queue at the booking office and the man at the barrier stopped him, and while they were arguing about accepting a five-pound note (which was all he had) for a two-penny ride to Baker Street, the criminal had sprung into a Circle train and was next heard of in Constantinople, disguised as an elderly Church of England clergyman touring with his niece.” So from the very beginning, we see Lord Peter as deliberate, thoughtful, but with a not so subtle sense of the ridiculous.