søndag den 25. juli 2010

Caroline Graham, Death of a Hollow Man (1989)

This cosy mystery is the second in the series about Chief Inspector Barnaby.

My family and I have loved watching “Midsomer Murders” for ages, but though I am such a great fan of Tom Barnaby and his family, I did not really enjoy the two books I have read in Danish translation. I have promised some of my friends (and myself) that I would give Caroline Graham a third chance in English so here goes:

In this story we have a drama within a drama: the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society are going to produce Amadeus, the story about Salieri and Mozart. And as this is Midsomer, obviously they are adding their own intrigues in plenty behind the curtain so though you don´t know who of the many controversial characters is going to be killed, you certainly expect a victim. And on the first night the leading actor, Salieri alias Esslyn Carmichael slices his own throat with a razor which was somewhat sharper than he had bargained for.

Of course Joyce is busily engaged as she is responsible for the wardrobe and plays the role as Salieri´s cook (no, Salieri was not poisoned). Cully plays the role of self-appointed critic and shows some interest in the promising, young actor Nicholas Bradley while Barnaby paints the scenery.

As is typical of a Barnaby mystery, there are plenty of quirky characters and a delicious small-town atmosphere. With regard to language I promise that I will never, ever read Caroline Graham in translation again. She deserves better than that. And please do not see this as if I am trying to slate the Danish translator – when a story depends heavily on (linguistic) humour and puns, it is terribly difficult to render the tone and the details in a translation.

The book versus the film:
In my opinion the director of the film has been very loyal to the characters of the book – I enjoyed the book in particular because it was almost like seeing the characters from the screen. Especially the haughty director and the gay couple.

I did get a few surprises, though, but perhaps that is because I don´t remember the first episodes as well as I think I do. As I have read two stories a couple of years ago, I knew that Troy was married (there is a hilarious scene where Troy introduces Cully to Mrs Troy, but you will have to read that yourself).

We all know that Joyce is dangerous in a kitchen, but does Barnaby really love gardening and painting? And was 19-year-old Cully such a pest? A really insolent teenager who was very busy expressing her honest opinion about this and that?

Never mind, I must remember to order a couple more – so I have an antidote ready for an overcast day. I bought the book myself.

6 kommentarer:

Jose Ignacio Escribano sagde ...

Dorte, I thought the text was from Dead, Mr Mozart by Bernard Bastable. My clue Mister Escribano was obviously wrong.

Margot Kinberg sagde ...

Dorte - Thanks for this review. I agree that sometimes, translations can take all of the pleasure out of a book, so I am glad you thought this book was better than the other two. As you know, I'm a Caroline Graham fan, so I'm so happy you liked this one : ). She does give us a wonderful small-town atmosphere, doesn't she? And the characters? I think they're delightfully quirky.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams sagde ...

I love Graham's books! And I love Midsomer, but they're too totally different things. :)

Louise sagde ...

Like you, I enjoy watching the series, but I have actually never read one of the Barnaby mysteries. I'll have to check if my mother has them - in English of course! Remember what we've talked about regarding Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks-books? I should think its more or less the same, remembering that you hated one of the books which you read in Danish. Although I find the later Inspector Banks books (in English) better than the first ones, I actually think that I've also read one of them in Danish long time ago. And hated it. Anyway, great review of Barnaby. I remember this episode/book well :)

Dorte H sagde ...

Jose: I wasn´t certain what you meant, but at least the book has Mozart in it.

Margot: you are one of the bloggers who has made me try her in English. :D

Elizabeth: yes, but not as different as I had expected.

Louise: my problem is that I like trying the series ´for free´ before I buy any of the books. And for some series it doesn´t matter, but for Caroline Graham and Peter Temple the translation makes an enormous difference.

Dorte H sagde ...

Kelly: I can see in my mail that you left a comment on this post so I don´t know why on earth I can´t find it in ´comment moderation´. (Oh, Blogger!)

I think Graham´s series is one you´d enjoy a lot. Good and proper plots, and the most wonderful characters & setting.