Monday, September 28, 2015

A World of Detective Fiction

I love to read detective fiction, and I've been looking recently for good lists of writers that I haven't read yet. One theme I love is food in detective fiction, which I've been exploring for years on my food blog. But I really love a good mystery story even if the detective never stops for a single snack.

Today I discovered a web page dedicated to detective fiction. It's enormous in scope, and was entirely written by G.J. Demko (1933-2014), "a professor at Dartmouth College and a devotee of the mystery genre." Demko was "especially interested in the settings of mysteries - the geography or the locus operandi - of crime fiction." His essays on mystery stories set in many foreign lands are incredible! (I'm really late to this party! But I plan to catch up.)

Introductory image of G.J. Demko's blog: to enter go here.
I've been thinking about reading more Japanese literature for the year long Japanese Literature Challenge. Demko's discussion of the history of Japanese detective fiction offers me a wonderful set of possibilities! Here are some of them:
"Another early writer, Seishi Yokomizo, wrote a number of mysteries with ghostly themes (a not uncommon characteristic of Japanese popular literature in general) including Murders at the Inn, Honjin in 1947 and The Village of Eight Tombs in 1950. The most remarkable and popular writer of the early post-war years, however, was Seicho Matsumoto, a very talented master of the puzzle type mystery. He was also very sensitive to settings and excellent at character development. He is credited with elevating the mystery out of the haunted house and away from the grotesque. His 1957 novel, Points and Lines (John Morton Publishers, London, 1979) starts with an ostensible double suicide that Matsumoto's detective, with great patience and persistence, finally proves is a double murder most heinous. Matsumoto's novel, Inspector Imanishi Investigates (Soho Press, N.Y., 1989) is my favorite in which a dogged and ordinary policeman tracks down a murderer by tracing the origin of a regional Japanese dialect. A collection of his short stories is also available in "The Voice and other Stories" (Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1995). Matsumoto's work provides a wonderful window on Japanese culture." (Mysteries in the Land of the Rising Sun, web page by Demko)
I've just bought Inspector Imanishi Investigates and plan to start reading today!