fredag den 17. april 2009

P.D. James, Det du'r piger ikke til (1978)


Forfatteren er formodentlig langt bedre kendt for sin Adam Dalgliesh-serie, men jeg synes, de to romaner med den kvindelige detektiv Cordelia Gray er dejlige og forfriskende. Dette er den første, hvor Cordelia helt uventet ´arver´ det detektivbureau, hun er medejer af, fordi stifteren, Bernie Pryde, begår selvmord (se nedenstående citat).

Cordelia er chokeret, men lader sig ikke slå ud, heller ikke af de mange velmenende mennesker i hendes omgivelser, som hævder, detektivfaget ikke er noget for en kvinde. Hun er nøgtern og jordnær, og når hun kommer på sporet, bider hun sig fast.
Plottet drejer sig om en anset videnskabsmands søn, som har begået selvmord, og da videnskabsmænd har brug for svar, antager han Cordelia til at finde svaret på spørgsmålet hvorfor. Måske vanskeligt nok i sig selv, men hun går til opgaven med stort engagement, og selvfølgelig viser det sig, at sagen er mere indviklet og farligere end som så.

Et morsomt lille kneb: Bernie Pryde er tidligere politimand, og har – selvfølgelig – arbejdet sammen med Adam Dalgliesh, som i hans øjne troner højt oppe på en piedestal. Så P.D. James´ berømte hovedperson svæver hele tiden over vandene, for til sidst at dukke op til en lille styrkeprøve med Cordelia Gray.

Apropos dette trick, som Anne Holt også benytter i Madam President: kender du andre krimiforfattere, som på denne måde bringer hovedpersoner fra forskellige serier sammen?

P.D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972).
The author is probably far better known for her Adam Dalgliesh series, but in my opinion the two novels featuring the female detective Cordelia Gray are nice and refreshing stories. This one is the first, where Cordelia quite unexpectedly ´inherits´ the detective bureau of which she is a part owner, because the founder, Bernie Pryde, commits suicide (see the quotation below).

Cordelia is shocked, but will not be beaten by adversity nor by well-meaning people who claim detection is not a career for a woman. She is down-to-earth, and when she is on the track, she follows it through.

The plot centres around a scientist´s son who has committed suicide, and as the scientist needs answers, he employs Cordelia to find out why. This may be difficult enough, but she sets out to do her job, and of course things are more complex and dangerous than they seemed at first.
An amusing little trick: Bernie Pryde is a former policeman, and – of course – he has worked under the icon Adam Dalgliesh. So P.D. James´s famous protagonist hovers in the background throughout the novel, until he finally appears on stage for a little battle between him and Cordelia.

Apropos of this trick which is also used by Anne Holt in “Death in Oslo”: do you know of other crime fiction writers who bring together protagonists from different series together?

12 kommentarer:

maxine sagde ...

I am so annoyed as I wrote a good comment, but it got "eaten"! Bottom line: I liked this book and Cordelia. I thought after reading this (in year of publication) she and Adam would get it together but he became gradually more stuffy and pompous and she faded out.

Michael Connelly brings together protags beautifully - first Terry McCabe and then Mickey Haller (the Lincoln Lawyer). With Harry Bosch, that is.

Julia Smith sagde ...

The title made me scramble for the Internet Movie Database, because I was sure that one of my favorite actors, Gerard Butler had appeared in a TV adaptation with the same name. Sure enough, it was a whole series, and he appeared in episode 4.

As I mentioned before, I can refer to films easier than I can crime fiction. And I do love it when characters cross over from one project to the other. For example, the room mate from 'Shallow Grave' who triggers the plot with his suitcase filled with money, makes an appearance in 'Trainspotting', a separate story which pulls 'Shallow Grave's room mate character over to appear as an integral plot-point once again - with the same suitcase.

Kerrie sagde ...

I think John Harvey does it too - brings Charlie Resnick (from an earlier series) into a Frank Elder novel as a sort of passing consultant. You get to see Resnick through "other" eyes.

Michael Robotham does it too to an extent through the structure of his novels where the protag in one is a secondary character in the next, to the point where you debate with yourself about whether they are a series.

Dorte H sagde ...

Maxine, I am sorry Blogger was after you again.
I am also quite fond of Cordelia & her matter-of-fact-ness.
I have read one or two Harry Bosch novels, but not the ones where he meets the other protagonists - as far as I remember.

Dorte H sagde ...

Julia, I am glad there was a film angle here :D
I know your fondness for films. I also enjoy watching one once in a while, but usually when I decide what to do for the evening, I select the book.
I didnt know that about Trainspotting, but it is actually a film I have seen more than once! (I enjoyed it myself and have showed it in classes a couple of times - the students also love it - especially the toilet scene)

Dorte H sagde ...

Kerrie, I think I have read that about Robotham. So far, only one of his books has been translated into Danish, so I will have to buy them at some point, but I have noticed that feature in some reviews.
And I promise I´ll read more of him before or later, but right now I think it is difficult to plan and think ahead.

lilly sagde ...

I have both of the Cordelia's books. I can't wait to read them. i love P.D. James and I know that she can't do a bad job.

Dorte H sagde ...

Lilly, you are in for a treat in my opinion. Cordelia is a protagonist I really like, and to some extent I can identify with her because she is quiet and sensible rather than heroic and impulsive.
Let me hear what you think when you have read them.

Søren sagde ...

The sweedish writer Jan Guillou does the same in his crimenovels, let main characters from one novel act as subordinate character in the other novel.

In his novel 'Fjenden i os selv' (I don't know the english title), it becomes a bit annoying. It all fits so nicely it's boring, I find.

Dorte H sagde ...

Søren, I haven´t got round to Jan Guillou. And from what you write, perhaps I haven´t missed anything important? I agree that the trick should be used with caution, but I enjoyed the little twist in this novel, and in Madam President it seems as if Anne Holt uses it as some kind of goodbye to Hanne Wilhelmsen.

Jane sagde ...

This book has a lot of promise, and I think it is a shame that Cordelia never got to develop into a more interesting character during a long line of books. I liked her, even though she lacks the charisma of Adam Dalgliesh. I sometimes suspect that she might be the first draft of Kate Miskin?
By the way, I also considered her a possible love interest for my dear AD. I am glad that did not happen, because it would make Cordelia too much of a sidekick and she deserves to be independent!

Dorte H sagde ...

Jane, I agree that this is an enjoyable story, even after so many years, and of course Cordelia should not be Dalgliesh´s little housewife.
P.D. James said at some point that she might take up Cordelia again if she had a good plot for a private detective, but I am not sure we are going to see her agin.
I have not really thought about her as a Miskin type. I can see some similarities in their self-control and quietness, but is Cordelia as ambitious as Kate?