Wednesday, December 26, 2007
While I've been waiting for some new crime novels from Italy, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, I've finished a couple of big books that are only sort-of crime fiction as well as the first two of Theresa Schwegel's police novels (I'm waiting for the 3rd one, which promises to be her best so far). The big books are Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games (the police detective and the gangster are surrogates for bigger issues that finally bring the twin narratives together at the end--a very good novel, but be prepared for a long haul if you start on it) and Gentlemen, by Klas Östergren (which claims to be part thriller and part spy story, but is actually a meandering satire about Sweden in the '70s--an interesting excursion of you're interested in Swedish culture and literature, but not a crime novel at all). Schwegel's books are interesting in several respects: most crime novels are about detectives or civilians rather than uniformed cops, which is Schwegel's "beat." Her books resemble Wambaugh's or those of John Westermann (whose Long Island cop stories are better than the reviews on Amazon would indicate). Schwegel's tales are also set in the North Chicago neighborhoods where I once lived, an extra bonus. Her stories are cynical (or realistic, if you wish) and involving--bringing the daily dilemmas of working police to the forefront (instead of serial killers or human trafficking or the other standard fare of the run-of-the-mill police novel in the U.S. I'll report on her new Person of Interest when I get hold of it. In the meantime, I'm finally catching up with the much-reviewed and highly recommended Broken Shore by Australia's Peter Temple--more on that later.