torsdag den 11. juni 2009

Joan Smith, A Masculine Ending (1987)

British crime debut and the first in the Loretta Lawson series.

Loretta goes to Paris to participate in a literary conference arranged by a feminist magazine. She has borrowed a weekend flat from a friend who shares it with three other Englishmen. She arrives very late, is starving, has trouble locating the flat and realizes that one of the beds is occupied. Loretta is an independent woman and a resourceful professor of literature, however, so she settles for the other bedroom without fuss (when she has jammed the door with a chair).

Any crime reader might have told her they ´smelled a rat´ here, but Loretta is far too inexperienced in the business of crime so she does not realize the truth until she returns to the flat the following evening and discovers an empty bed – with large blood stains.

And now, being a law-abiding citizen, Loretta should have contacted the French police, but she is convinced they will keep her in Paris for days so she chooses the easy way out.

Instead, she returns home and engages in the case herself, assisted by her good friend Bridget, and her former husband, a resourceful journalist. The plot as such is good and Loretta is an interesting new protagonist, but the feminist squabble over terminology seems a bit silly and dated to me.

Joan Smith, Mand og mord imellem (1991).
Britisk krimidebut, og første bind i Loretta Lawson-serien. Loretta rejser til Paris for at deltage i en litteraturkonference, arrangeret af et feministisk tidsskrift. Hun har lånt en weekendlejlighed af en ven, som deler den med tre andre englændere. Hun ankommer sent om aftenen, er hundesulten, har svært ved at finde lejligheden og opdager at den ene af sengene allerede er optaget. Men Loretta er en uafhængig kvinde og professor i litteratur, så hun tager til takke med det andet soveværelse uden vrøvl (efter at have sat en stol i klemme under dørhåndtaget).

En hvilken som helst krimilæser kunne have fortalt hende, at noget lugter ilde, men Loretta er endnu alt for uerfaren på krimiområdet, så sandheden går ikke op for hende, før hun vender tilbage til lejligheden den følgende aften og finder en tom seng – gennemvædet af blod.

Som lovlydig borger burde Loretta nu kontakte det franske politi, men hun er overbevist om, de vil beholde hende i Paris i dagevis, så hun vælger den nemme udvej. Vel hjemme kaster hun sig selv ud i sagen, godt hjulpet af sin gamle veninde Bridget, og sin eksmand, en journalist med nyttige forbindelse. Plottet som sådan er udmærket, og Loretta er en forfriskende nyhed, men firser-feminismen har et lidt gammeldags anstrøg.

3 kommentarer:

seanag sagde ...

It's been a long time since I read this book, so I don't remember the feminist squabble so much--probably because it seemed appropriate to the era. I liked this book a lot at the time. Reading your recap, it reminds me that women do get themselves into such situations all the time. I remember the time that a woman friend and I traveled to Yugoslavia, and went and put ourselves up at the local youth hostel. Turned out that during the off season, it was pretty much just a bunch of young Yugoslavian men and us. "Oh well," we thought, "it will probably be all right". We locked the door to our room but heard periodic testings of the handle for awhile. And we were all right, though probably more than a bit naive. Still, great beginning to a crime novel, I'd say.

Kerrie sagde ...

Dorte, I have chosen you for a meme - if you read back to Peter's post in the comments you'll see it is all Maxine's fault.

Dorte H sagde ...

Seanag, I think you are quite right about it being appropriate to the era. Some novels never seem to ´grow old´, and in many ways this one is also good today, but I am sure Joan Smith would also have changed some things if she were to write another one now.

Kerrie, thank you. I have seen Peter & Maxine´s sending it on to you ;)
I will write about it, but not until next week or so. I have too many exam papers right now.