View Full Version : Daniel Pennac: The Scapegoat

15-05-2003, 19:21:46
The whole mystery genre of novels has been exploited to death. Nevertheless, I plow on, and it is always exciting for me to find a new author with talent.

Among books I enjoyed when much younger were some old English classics like Sherlock Holmes and some of Agatha Christie's creations, her best being those two amateur sleuths Tuppance and Tommy. John Buchan's novels, generally set in between the two world wars were good, although xenophobic as heck towards anyone unfortunate to not be English. Another whole series of reissues that came out in the early 1980s called Classic Thrillers featuring other authors from that same interwar period are worth a read.

I won't bore you with an extensive list of more modern authors I enjoy, but suffice to say that because they come out with new novels infrequently enough I was forced to move onto foreign settings and/or translations.

Martin Cruz Smith is perhaps the best. Gorky Park was a big hit but his later novels featuring the same Russian detective through until after the breakup of the USSR are even better. I can recommend Van de Wetering's Dutch Cop series. That view of the world that comes from being a Zen monk is always present in his novels. The ten novels by Sjowall and Wahloo (apologies for not loading in Swedish silly vowel fonts) started out well and got better with each and every novel. As did the sardonic humour.

The latest translated author I have read is France's Daniel Pennac. More offbeat and fresh than many other mystery novelists. The plot is developed well but not as labyinthine as some French writers. Or filmmakers. Yeesh. Anyhow, his humour rivals that of Donald E. Westlake in the Dortmunder series.

Worth a read if you haven't already checked him out. Although he is new to me he has been around for a while. The Scapegoat was written and set in the 1980s although my translation only came out five years ago. Apparently this novel and three others featuring the same protagonist were best sellers in France.

Scabrous Birdseed
15-05-2003, 19:31:36
Whey hey, someone else who likes detective novels!

12-06-2003, 09:30:29
yes they were bestsellers, and they're well worth reading, although I have my doubts on the translation (most of his humour is based of the use of the language, which makes tranlation difficult)