Sunday, 18 November 2007

The Delights of Ms. Penny

Brilliant sunshine, cold. Highs minus 4

Have just finished reading the most marvelous book! It was sent to me in manuscript form and it's by a British writer - Kate Summerscale. Raincoast Books is publishing it in Canada next year and I suspect it'll be a hit. It deserves to be.

It's called, THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER - and subtitled - The Murder at Road Hill House.

It's non-fiction - about the Scotland Yard detective (Mr. Whicher) and his investigation into a particularly gruesome murder in Wiltshire in the mid-1800's. Professional homicide detectives were brand new and even Scotalnd Yard didn't quite know what to make of them. And the detectives themselves were more or less making up the art and science of detection as they went along.

Mr Whicher's investigation shocked the British people and drew both huge praise and crippling criticism. So well reported were his methods he ended up being the inspiration for Wilkie Collins fictional detective in the very first murder mystery using a professional sleuth - Moonstone.

So each and every fictional police detective can be traced back to Mr. Whicher. He's our 'Lucy'.

It's a fantastic book - and it was a pleasure to endorse - though I suspect the publishers will have so many great blurbs mine will be crowded out. Still - it's an unexpected perk of being a writer to be sent such great books to read before anyone else gets their hands on them.

And speaking of endorsing - one of the books I most enjoyed endorsing last year has won the British Ellis Peter's Dagger for best Historic Novel. The wonderful
MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH by Ariana Franklin. A stunning novel well worth reading.

Another is by our own Canadian writer Linda L. Richards - her great book is being published by St Martin's Minotaur in the US (!!) in the winter. More about that later.

So exciting to be inspired by other writers. Thrilling and often more than a little intimidating!

Am off to give a small talk at 10 - then maybe lunch in Knowlton. Have a big week coming up.

Be well - speak soon.


Peter said...

I was pleased to read your high opinion of Mistress of the Art of Death, which impressed me to no end, especially since I've always been apprehensive about historical crime fiction. But Mistress ... does a neat job of keeping itself accessible to contemporary sensibilities while remaining a plausible take of 12th-century England. I'd call that quite a feat, and I'd say the book certainly deserved its Dagger.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Louise Penny Author said...

Totally agree - thanks Peter

Peter said...

I feel as if I'm exploring previously forbidden territory. Today I checked an Ellis Peters novel out of the library. Who knows what this could all lead to?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"