Tuesday, November 28, 2006


At its best, crime fiction can detect the cracks in society's façade, the bits that don't fit, the revealing anomalies -- maybe even reach more existential targets, finding what the Italian poet Eugenio Montale called the broken mesh in the net that hems us in, "the dead point of the world, the link that won't hold, the thread to be untangled that might finally place us in the midst of a truth". Montale was talking not about crime fiction but about lemon groves at midday, where one could almost expect to uncover "il punto morto del mondo, l'anello che non tiene, / il filo da disbrogliare che finalmente ci metta / nel mezzo di una verità" ("I limoni", c. 1922). At its best, mystery writing can do just that: finger the flaws that disclose reality. Interviewed by Publishers Weekly (October 23, 2006), the Indian writer Vikram Chandra, author of SACRED GAMES(London, Faber, 2006) reveals that his take on the crime novel, "especially the noir novel, is that as the detective follows the crime, he moves through society, from high to low, and uncovers things that explain the culture".


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