Saturday, March 24, 2012

Favorite Literary Detectives: Adding Dalgleish to the List

So I've been discovering P.D. James. How have I missed her work before now? She's 91 years old and has been writing mysteries for fifty years, and yet somehow I just stumbled upon her last year.

I first read her non-fiction book Talking About Detective Fiction, a great little collection of essays/thoughts/reflections on the mystery writing genre. That inspired me to want to read more of her work, but somehow I didn't manage it until the recent publication of Death Comes to Pemberley. Intrigued that such a renowned mystery author would move into Austenalia, I read and enjoyed that.

But I kept hearing that what I really needed to do was read her Adam Dalgleish novels. I tried one several months back, but it was firmly in the middle of the books she wrote about him and had him acting (or so it said) "out of character." I didn't want to get to know a character when he was acting out character before I'd even made his acquaintance in character. So I finally decided to do the sensible thing and track down the first Adam Dalgleish mystery. It turned out to be James' debut novel from 1962: Cover Her Face.

The mystery was terrific. James knows how to plot, and she's an excellent writer. (My review of the book posted at the above link.) Dalgleish just intrigues me...a very quiet man with a lot of depth. We're given tiny glimpses of that depth in Cover Her Face, enough that I will definitely continue on with the books in which he features.

I suspect I will be adding Adam Dalgleish to a line of literary and dramatic sleuths I already love. My list of male detectives (I'll have to do a separate post on female detectives sometime) includes Peter Whimsey, Hercule Poirot, Christopher Foyle, Sherlock Holmes, Brother Cadfael, Adrian Monk, and Luke Thanet. Oh, and Encyclopedia Brown. Hmm. I know that list could be much longer. I will have to see if my tired, middle-aged brain comes up with the rest. If so, I'll be back to edit.


Hannah said...

I was just cruising around on the internet and noticed this post. You have good taste...first C.S. Lewis, (always a good beginning, along with the marvelous G.K. Chesterton) then Wimsey, Poirot, Foyle, Cadfael....I haven't read any Dalgliesh novels, but I've been meaning to. Adrian Monk and Luke Thanet I've never heard of, but I'll have to look them up. :)

Beth said...

C.S. Lewis is truly always a good beginning!

Your thoughtful comment makes me realize I need to do another post soon, adding another detective to this list -- Duncan Kincaid of the Kincaid/James mystery series by Deborah Crombie.

Luke Thanet is the detective in a series of novels by Dorothy Simpson. I got several in a library sale a few years back. Adrian Monk is a television detective who has OCD. He was played by the wonderful Tony Shaloub. I think he and Foyle are the only ones on this list who didn't start life on the page.

Glad you stopped by!

Longish said...

I found my way back! :) Kincaid...never heard of him. When I thought about it, I realized who Monk was, I had a friend who really liked him a lot...a few weeks ago we watched the first's hilarious, and very well-crafted. Much better than the comparatively dry and slightly gruesome Midsomer Murders. I think it must be very difficult to come up with a memorable TV detective - that's why Foyle is outnumbered, and even he could use some fleshing out. I just wrote on my blog about the new Foyle's War series next year - did you know about that?

Longish said...

Oh, and by the way, I'm Hannah, from up there. Going by Longish now. ;)