Friday, January 8, 2010

Gender of Mystery Writing

My last post raises the question on gender in fiction-writing. I for one tend to try an unknown female writer more easily than a male writer. This is on some level quite illogical, since my favorite writers include a lot of males, like Lion Feuchtwanger and Klaus Mann. 

However, for mystery writers, I always think I prefer female writers because they more often write from a female point of view, and frankly, not so many women die. However, there are a lot of male mystery writers, most of them Scandinavian, that I just love (e.g. Henning Mankell,Stig Larsson), and a lot of female writers that I got tired of (Anne Rice: too religious, Patricia Cornwell: too obsessed with serial killers).

Which brings me to the latest mystery I read: M.R. Hall's The Coroner. 
Great book, complex plot and background story, totally from a woman's point of view. Good thing the author decided to use his initials only. Otherwise, I'd probably not have picked it up. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. 

The Coroner's protagonist is, surprise, a coroner. Since she just starts out in this position, she teaches herself, and the reader, on the duties and rights of the coroner as needed, and as the investigations proceed, a point of view that I knew little about before I read this book. 

The combination of the crime story, and political issues like private prisons and the difference between punishment and rehabilitation, together with a background story of a woman struggling with mental issues, makes this book a wonderful read. 

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