An anonymous reader of my running commentary (or blather?) in this blog has left a comment to my original post on Tana French's In the Woods. I'm reposting his comment and my reply, with a request for further discussion about the character of crime novels and/or mysteries. Here goes:
"Anonymous said...Dont you get it.....Ryan did the original murders and that is why he blocks out what happened....12:12 AM". My reply was "Anonymous thinks that the novel is a puzzle to be solved, and that the answer is Ryan as the murderer in the old case (the murder of his 2 childhood friends). I think the novel is more than a puzzle, and the obvious possibility that Ryan murdered his friends is no more certain (or essential to the novel) than the other possibilities, criminal or metaphysical. 6:52 AM". BTW, I'm not up reading blog comments at 6:52AM, that's California time and I'm on East-Coast U.S. time. But the exchange implies the question of what a crime novel or a mystery is "about," especially in the case of a complex story or a novel with literary aspirations. Is it important to know who murdered Ryan's friends? Some of the reviewers on Amazon thought so--they were disappointed by the novels conclusion. Are the metaphysical overtones that are if anything emphasized by the ambiguous conclusion a problem for a crime novel? And is the solving of a puzzle a necessary distinguishing characteristic between what we are these days calling "crime fiction" and mystery novels? Any thoughts?
Yikes! I haven't even read it yet (still not quite out in PB over here or on Amazon uk, but nearly), so cannot say. But have bookmarked your post so I can return when I have read it (as you can imagine, this is one of the more eagerly awaited PBs at Petrona Towers).
Like your new look by the way. Have been blogging somewhat intermittently since July so forgive me if it is not that new: I have only just noticed.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
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