Define the task.
Brainstorm all possible sources.
I was asked by a friend of a friend to recommend novels for a sociology
class, "Gender, Crime, and Deviance." The course has an international
component to it and the professor wanted mysteries/detective stories
set in other countries. Surely there are more authors who fit the bill
than Agatha Christie. So I passed the request on to my colleagues on
the iChat listserv and found out what great resources library students
of the recommendations were short but sweet: "What about Damage
by Josephine Hart or The Reader by Bernhard Schlink?" Or "Jonathan
Kellerman's Butcher's Theatre is a particular favorite, as it deals
with a serial killer in Israel and makes a strong point that this does
not often happen overseas."
by Janwillem van de Wetering, set in and around Amsterdam, are fabulous
and unique reads." Val McDermid is a British writer recently discovered
and liked by one contributor. The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
was reviewed in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "A beguiling puzzle
-- a game within a game within a game -- solved in a perplexing..."
Some turned to
their partners for ideas. "I ran this one by my wife, who is more
of a fiction reader than I am and who lived overseas
resulted in a recommendation for a series of 10 books set in Sweden
by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, which include discussions of crime and
deviance from a Swedish perspective. Specifically mentioned were The
Man on the Balcony, and Roseanna. "My boyfriend loves reading crime/mystery
Secrets by Kathy Reichs, part of it fiction about true
events and the other simply fiction." It takes place in Guatemala.
Aurelio Zen mysteries
by Michael Dibdin, taking place in Venice, were recommended, as were
Sarah Caudwell's mysteries. "Aaron Elkins has a series with Chris
Norgren, a curator for SAM, and one of those takes place between Italy
and Seattle with interesting questions of art provenance and foreign
thugs instead of American ones -- A Glancing Light." Two modern
English mystery writers who were found to be thought provoking were
P.D. James and Reginald Hill -- different ends of the political spectrum,
providing some interesting opportunities for comparison.
that were made into movies were submitted, such as Patricia Highsmith's,
The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, and the international
bestseller Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Heog.
The person who
submitted Sense of Snow was kind enough to put up a possible red flag
for a sex scene. A video of The Sculptress, by English author Minette
Walters, was not well received, though the novel was recommended. And
of course, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, the first in the series
with Arkady Renko, a Moscow police detective, was also recommended.
A couple of students
taught me how readers can help themselves:
lists mysteries by geographical region.
- Seattle Public
Library's NoveList database has "Readers' Resources on this
web page: http://www.spl.org/selectedsites/booksandreading.html.
"It allows readers to search for fiction by describing a plot
of a story they'd like to read or by doing a Boolean search. However
you need an SPL card to access the database." (Thanks to Monica
Jackson for featuring this in our LIS560 class.)
Thanks to the many
future reader advisors who responded: Marianne Sweeny, Dianne Ludwig,
Gregory Hatch, Kate Wehr, Julie Staton, Renee Remlinger, Matt Love,
Joan Reberger, and Nikki Carder.