Category Archives: Helene Tursten

I Depend on You*

In many crime novels, there’s a main sleuth (usually, but not always, the protagonist), and an assistant/second-in-command. The main sleuth is usually the one who puts the major pieces of the puzzle together and solves the case. But don’t underestimate the assistant. There are plenty of them out there who quietly do more than their share of solving cases and making the main sleuth look good as a result.

These can be really interesting characters, too, in their own right. Sometimes they’re a bit enigmatic; sometimes they’re more transparent than that. Either way, it can add to a story when the assistant is at least as skilled as (sometimes even better than?) the main sleuth.

Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, for instance, is a brilliant detective. He often puts together very difficult cases, and his reputation is well-deserved. But make no mistake; his assistant, Archie Goodwin, has quite a lot of skill of his own. In fact, it’s a good question whether he is actually an employee (well, technically, of course, he is) or a business partner. Certainly his ‘street smarts’ and other detecting skills are a match for just about anyone. He’s also an interesting character in his own right.

Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey is the main detective in the novels featuring him (although Harriet Vane does more than her share of detecting as the series goes on!). He’s gotten a certain reputation for being good at solving mysteries, too. But you’d be wrong to underestimate his assistant, Mervyn Bunter. Bunter is Lord Peter’s valet, among other things, so they’re not social equals. But Lord Peter doesn’t make the mistake of discounting what Bunter thinks and says. Bunter is intelligent and observant, and he’s been known to put some of the pieces of a case together. What’s more, because he’s a valet, he fits in with others of the ‘serving class,’ and finds out things that his boss couldn’t. He has his own way of thinking, too, that’s very helpful to Lord Peter.

Helene Tursten’s Inspector Irene Huss is a Göteborg police detective who works with the Violent Crimes Unit. She is the protagonist of the series, so the novels follow her share of the detective work. But that doesn’t mean she does all of the work on her own. She relies on all of her teammates, and her boss. One of the more interesting of those teammates is Harmu Rauhala. The only Finn among the group of Swedes, he’s a bit enigmatic, and he’s not one to spend a lot of time chatting and so on. But he has a way of getting information, of putting the puzzle pieces together, and of being right where he needs to be. And he’s an interesting character, too. He always seems to have a solid sense about a case, and the other members of the team know to pay attention to what he says and does.

Carl Mørck is Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Copenhagen homicide detective. He’s in charge of ‘Department Q,’ which is dedicated to cases of ‘special interest’ – basically cold cases. The department was originally set up in part to respond to media and political pressure to tackle unsolved crimes. It’s a small department, consisting of three people: Mørck; his assistant Hafez al-Assad; and their secretary, Rose Knudsen. Mørck is an excellent detective, if abrasive and often difficult. He does his job well, and he gets results. But just as skilled in his own way is Assad. He has a very mysterious background, and we don’t get to know him as well as we know Mørck. But he is skilled, smart, and shrewd. And he’s sometimes the one who puts the team on the right path or gets information. And Rose is no slouch, either. Mørck knows, whether or not he’ll admit it, that he depends on both Assad and Rose.

Emily Brightwell’s historical (Victorian Era) series features Inspector Gerald Witherspoon of the (London) Metropolitan Police Department. Witherspoon is intelligent enough, and he is a dedicated detective. But he has a reputation for solving cases that’s greater than his actual skills would suggest. That’s in large part because of his housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries. She’s got a natural ability to put puzzle pieces together, and the supervises a staff of people who do the ‘legwork.’ What’s interesting about Mrs. Jeffries is that, as housekeeper, she is not her employer’s social equal. In that time and place, it doesn’t help that she’s a woman. So, she has to be creative about finding ways to point Witherspoon in the right direction.

And then there’s Brian Stoddart’s Police Sergeant Muhammad ‘Habi’ Habibullah. He lives and works in 1920s Madras (now Chennai). It’s the last few years of the British Raj, and Habi is neither white nor Christian (he is Muslim). He’s not English, either. So, there’s only so far he can rise in the ranks of the police. But he is a dedicated and skilled detective. His boss, Superintendent Christian ‘Chris’ Le Fanu knows that Habi is a trustworthy, skilled detective, who has to be, as the saying goes, twice as good to get half as far. So, he gives Habi as much authority as he can, and supports him. He depends on Habi, too, to help solve cases. Things become very difficult for both of them in A Greater God, during which there is increased bigotry and worse against Muslims. And Le Fanu’s boss, Arthur Jepson, doesn’t make anything easier with his racist beliefs. Le Fanu knows that Habi can be trusted to do his job well. But there are people on the police who believe that Habi will side with his own people. And he is torn, as he sees what’s happening. It makes for real tension in the novel.

The protagonist of a crime novel often gets a lot of the attention. But sometimes, the assistant/second-in-command is just as good – even better. And that can make for an interesting story.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Dean Friedman.

27 Comments

Filed under Brian Stoddart, Dorothy L. Sayers, Emily Brightwell, Helene Tursten, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Rex Stout

She Planted the Evidence on Me*

One part of investigating a crime is, of course, looking at the evidence. Some evidence is physical, and some is not. Taken as a whole, though, evidence is a critical part of making a case against a suspect.

There’s a challenge, though, with relying on evidence. It’s sometimes hard to tell whether a piece of evidence is real, or has been planted to frame someone. That does happen in real life, and it can serve as an interesting plot point in crime fiction, too. It’s got to be done carefully, though, because it’s not as easy as you might think to plant evidence. Still, when it is done well, that plot point can add to a story.

Agatha Christie made use of planted evidence in several of her stories. In Sad Cypress, for instance, Elinor Carlisle stands trial for the murder of Mary Gerrard. There is plenty of evidence against her, too. For one thing, her former fiancé, Roderick ‘Roddy’ Welman, became infatuated with Mary. His feelings for her resulted in the breakup of his engagement to Elinor. For another thing, Elinor’s wealthy aunt, Laura Welman, was especially interested in Mary, and wanted her to be well provided for in her will. This could mean that Elinor would be cut out of the will, or at least get much less money. Local GP Peter Lord has become smitten with Elinor, and wants her name cleared. He asks Hercule Poirot to investigate, and Poirot agrees. In the end, he finds out the truth. But at one point, he has to deal with some planted evidence that confuses matters. I know, fans of Murder on the Orient Express.

James Yaffe’s A Nice Murder For Mom, introduces readers to Dave, a New York City police detective. He’s recently widowed, and has decided that he needs a change of scene, as New York is too painful for him. So, he accepts a job as an investigator for the Public Defender’s Office in Mesa Grande, Colorado. It’s a new beginning, and the job isn’t that demanding. But then, there’s a murder. Stuart Bellamy, a member of Mesa Grande College’s English Department, is killed in his home. Most of the members of the department had very good reason to want Bellamy killed. There are other people, too, with motive. But the one person who can’t prove an alibi is Bellamy’s colleague, Mike Russo. And there’s evidence against him, too, including his admitting that he hated the victim. Russo is arrested, but he claims that he is innocent. He doesn’t deny his motive, but he says he’s not guilty. He asks Dave to help clear his name, and Dave looks into the matter. And he finds that someone has cleverly faked evidence to frame Russo.

The focus of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent is the murder of Carolyn Polhemus, who was a prosecuting attorney for fictional Kindle County. Her boss, Kindle County Prosecutor Raymond Horgan wants this case investigated ‘by the book,’ and solved quickly. He assigns Rožat ‘Rusty’ Sabich, his best deputy prosecutor, to the case, and Sabich gets to work. What Sabich hasn’t told his boss, though, is that he had a relationship with Polhemus. It ended several months before her death, but the fact certainly compromises his investigation. When Horgan finds out, he’s understandably angry, and pulls Sabich from the case. Then, evidence starts to turn up that implicates Sabich in the murder. It’s so compelling, in fact, that he is arrested for the crime. He hires Alejandro ‘Sandy’ Stern to defend him, and the two begin to work to find out who the real killer is. I can say without spoiling the story that planted evidence plays a role in it.

It plays a role in Helene Tursten’s The Glass Devil, too. In that novel, schoolteacher Jacob Schyttelius is shot. Göteborg homicide detective Irene Huss and her team begin the investigation. Very soon, they learn that Schyttelius’ parents have also been murdered; they were killed just hours before he was. At first, these murders look like the work of a Satanic group, and that wouldn’t be impossible. But it soon becomes clear that that evidence has been planted to sidetrack the police. Another possibility is that someone has a grudge against the family. But they were well-enough liked and considered ‘respectable,’ so it’s hard to work out who might hate them that much. The trail is complicated, and has much to do with the past. But, in the end, Huss finds out the truth.

In Mick Herron’s Down Cemetery Road, Sarah Tucker gets involved in a web of murder, conspiracy, and more. It all starts when a house near hers explodes, killing its owners, Thomas and Maddie Singleton. Strangely enough, their four-year-old daughter, Dinah, is not found, and Sarah worries for the child. But it’s soon clear that no-one will answer her questions or help her find the girl. Something is being hidden, and she wants to know what it is. So, she hires Oxford Investigations, which is run by Joe Silvermann and Zoë Boehm. Silvermann gets to work on the case, but he soon warns Sarah away from it. He’s uncovered information that suggests that there’s much more going on here than a child who’s wandered off, or been abducted. Sarah insists that she wants answers, though, and Silvermann reluctantly agreed. Then, he’s found murdered. What’s worse, someone plants evidence that suggests he was a drug dealer, and Sarah was one of his customers. This puts her squarely at the heart of the investigation into his death. Now, she’s going to have to get answers on her own.

And then there’s Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. In that novel, a group of people gather for a weekend ‘hen do’ for Clare Cavendish. The house they’re using belongs to the aunt of Florence ‘Flo’ Clay, who’s put the whole party together. It’s in a lonely, secluded place, so the partygoers are very much on their own. Or are they? There’s evidence that someone may be watching them. If so, who is it? That in itself makes everyone uneasy. Some past history also comes up, which only adds to the awkwardness and discomfort. Things gradually spin out of control, and what’s supposed to be a fun weekend turns sinister. As protagonist Leonora ‘Nora’ Shaw tries to piece everything together, we find that planted evidence plays an important role in the story.

Of course, any good investigator will pay attention to all the evidence. But it’s just as important to be aware that some of that evidence may be planted. The challenge is to separate that from the evidence that’s genuine.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Cliff Carlisle and Mel Foree’s The Girl in the Blue Velvet Band.

21 Comments

Filed under Agatha Christie, Helene Tursten, James Yaffe, Mick Herron, Ruth Ware, Scott Turow

Just Picture a Great Big Steak*

One of the things I love about crime fiction is the way it shows how we’ve changed over time. As society changes, so do social attitudes and customs. One of the many kinds of changes we’ve seen is in our diets and the way people eat.

I got to thinking about this after an interesting comment exchange with Brad at ahsweetmysteryblog. By the way, if you like to read crime fiction, especially classic and Golden Age crime fiction, you don’t want to miss Brad’s richly detailed and informative blog. I learn every time I visit. Every time.

Brad and I were mentioning Fritz Brenner, who, as Rex Stout fans know, is Nero Wolfe’s chef. He is world-class, and always creates gourmet eating experiences for his boss. But, by today’s standards, we’d probably say that his cooking is far too rich and too full of calories, fat, and so on. Our views about what people should be eating have certainly changed since Stout was writing. Today’s top chefs know that there are healthful ways to cook that are also unforgettably delicious and beautifully presented. And many restaurants now offer vegetarian/vegan options, smaller servings, and low-fat/low-calorie dishes.

Choices such as low-calorie foods or vegetarianism haven’t always been seen as mainstream as they are now. For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Dumb Witness, Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings travel to the village of Market Basing when one of its prominent residents, wealthy Emily Arundell, unexpectedly dies. At first, her death is put down to liver failure, but soon enough, it turns out that she was poisoned. And that wasn’t the first attempt on her life. Not many months before, she had a fall down a staircase that was deliberately engineered. There are several suspects in this case, since Miss Arundell’s relatives are all in need of money. And there’s the fact that her companion, Wilhelmina ‘Minnie’ Lawson, has inherited most of her fortune. Two of the witnesses that Poirot talks to are Isabel and Julia Tripp, who are friends of Minnie Lawson, and who were there on the night Miss Arundell died. These are eccentric ladies, to put it mildly. They have many non-conformist beliefs and are avid spiritualists. To add to this, they are vegetarians. While that fact isn’t the reason for Miss Arundell’s murder, it offers a glimpse of how such a diet might have been viewed at the time. Certainly, Poirot, who is a gourmand, is not exactly excited about the prospect of having dinner with the Tripp sisters…

Just because our views of what ‘counts’ as an appropriate diet have changed, doesn’t mean that all fictional sleuths eat healthfully. For instance, Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel isn’t particularly concerned with keeping to a healthy diet. He’s not stupid; he knows that it’s a good idea to limit fat, salt, and so on. But he likes his pub grub and has no intention of cutting things like bacon out of his diet. The same goes for Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and for Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. It’s not that they don’t know what they ought to be eating. Fans of Dexter’s series, for instance, know that Morse’s doctors have told him often enough. But that’s not the way they live their lives. What’s interesting about these sleuths’ attitudes is that they go against the proverbial tide. It’s now considered perfectly normal – even healthy – to eat less meat, less salt and fat, fewer fried foods, and so on.

We see another interesting example of that change in attitude in Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant series. Quant is a Saskatoon-based PI who does enjoy the occasional ‘not-good-for-you-but-delicious’ meal at his ‘watering hole,’ Colourful Mary’s. Still, he tries to watch what and how much he eats. That becomes difficult when his mother, Kay, comes for a visit in Flight of Aquavit. She is a farm wife, who’s spent her life making heavy-duty meals for hard-working farm people. So, her idea of what ‘counts’ as breakfast, for instance, are quite different to her son’s. It’s not that Quant doesn’t enjoy her cooking; he does. It’s delicious. But he also knows it’s got many times more calories, fat, salt, and so on than he should be having. This difference in views isn’t the main plot of the novel, but it does show how our attitudes about diet have changed. It also shows (but this is perhaps the topic for another time), how lifestyle, culture, and other factors influence diet.

Helene Tursten’s Irene Huss is a Göteborg police detective, whose squad investigates murder and other violent crimes. In Night Rounds, we learn that Huss’ daughter, Jenny, has decided to become vegan. In fact, in one sub-plot, Jenny goes out one night with a militant vegan group to do what she thinks will simply be putting up vegan posters. It turns into something far more than that, and things quickly turn ugly. Fortunately for Jenny, Huss has suspected there might be trouble, and is able to get Jenny out of harm’s way. Jenny’s choice to become vegan does set up a conflict with her father, Krister, who is a well-regarded chef. But neither veganism nor a more conventional diet is portrayed as ‘right.’ It makes for an interesting discussion of what we think of when we think of ‘good’ food.

Sujata Massey’s Rei Shimura is a half-Japanese/half-American antiques dealer who’s originally based in Tokyo (although her adventures do take her to several other places). She likes and respects some of the Japanese traditions she’s learned, but in many ways, she has a very modern outlook. And that includes her choice to be a vegetarian. What’s really interesting about that is that it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow as a rule. It’s simply accepted. And that shows something, at least to me, about the way our views about diet have changed.

That makes sense, too, since society is always changing. Thanks, Brad, for the inspiration. Now, folks, if you’ll be kind enough to go visit Brad’s blog, I’ll excuse myself. It’s time for lunch!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Lionel Bart’s Food, Glorious Food.

27 Comments

Filed under Agatha Christie, Anthony Bidulka, Colin Dexter, Helene Tursten, Reginald Hill, Rex Stout, Sue Grafton, Sujata Massey

Learned Karate and Kung Fu*

Despite what’s portrayed in many action films, martial arts involve a lot more than just smacking and kicking someone. In fact, the whole point of skill at martial arts is careful self-control (rather than simply lunging at someone) and mind/body connection. Because of that, traditional martial arts are holistic; they involve meditation, breath control, and coordinated movements, among other things.

Most traditional martial arts take years to learn properly, and even longer to perfect, and people have been doing just that for many centuries.  So, it’s little wonder that we see martial arts and those who know them in crime fiction. When it’s done well (i.e. credibly), some skill at martial arts can add a layer to a character.

Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes will know that he’s got an eclectic set of skills and knowledge. One of them is bartitsu (Conan Doyle called it ‘baritsu’), which is a mix of martial arts styles, including jiu jitsu and other techniques. Interestingly, bartitsu was developed in the UK at the end of the 19th Century and gained in popularity during the Edwardian Era. As Holmes fans know, he uses bartitsu to defend himself during the climactic fight with his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, at Switzerland’s Reichenbach Falls. That, so he tells Watson in The Adventure of the Empty House, is how he managed to stay alive.

Helene Tursten’s Irene Huss is a member of the Violent Crimes Division of the Göteborg police. She is also a former Swedish national judo champion. While she no longer competes, she is a regular at the local dojo. She knows that keeping mind and body healthy and connected is important, and she uses her judo sessions to keep in shape and to cope with the stress of being a police detective with a busy family life. She passes along her interest in martial arts to her daughter, Katarina, who studies for several years herself. Later, Katarina becomes more interested in dance than in judo but her years of study have taught her valuable skills.

Qiu Xiaolong’s Chief Inspector Chen Cao is a detective for the Shanghai police. As a young person, he studied tai chi, as many people do, and tried his best to learn. But tai chi didn’t come easily to him (as I say, martial arts is complex). As we learn in A Loyal Character Dancer, he didn’t continue his martial arts study, but he did happen to find an old English textbook in the park where he was practicing one day and found both an interest and an ability with language. Chen hasn’t continued studying tai chi, but he respects those who have mastered it. Here’s a bit of his thinking (also from A Loyal Character Dancer) as he sees a man doing tai chi in a park one day:
 

‘Chief Inspector Chen wondered what he might have become had he persisted in practicing. Perhaps he would now be like that tai chi devotee, wearing a white silk martial arts costume, loose-sleeved, red-silk buttoned, with a peaceful expression on his face. Chen knew him. An accountant in an almost-bankrupt state company, yet at that moment, a master moving in perfect harmony with the qi of the universe.’
 

That harmony and self-control is an important aspect of traditional martial arts.

Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee is a Toronto-based forensic accountant. Her specialty is following ‘money trails’ to locate funds that people have tried to hide. She works for a Hong Kong-based company that serves people who’ve been cheated out of money and are desperate to get it back. For those clients, the financial loss is devastating on several levels; and for various reasons, they may not be able to (or wish to) go through the usual channels. So, by word of mouth, they learn of and contact Lee’s employer. The people who have stolen that money generally don’t want to be caught, so they can be very dangerous. Lee’s prepared, though. She is an expert at bak mei, a special form of martial arts that makes particular use of the hands. More than once in the series, she makes use of her skill at bak mei and other martial arts.

And then there’s Zoë Sharp’s novels featuring Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox. She’s a former member of Her Majesty’s Special Forces, where she learned martial arts. She left the military, but she still makes use of her knowledge. For one thing, she teaches what she knows to others, especially women. The idea is to help them develop not just the ability to defend themselves, but also the confidence that goes with it. Here’s what she has to say about it:
 

‘I view self-defence like wearing an expensive watch. You don’t keep flashing it about trying to impress people. Instead, you keep it up your sleeve, but in the back of your mind you have the confidence of knowing you have the exact time whenever you need it.’ 
 

And Fox has certainly had need of her skills. She’s a PI who sometimes gets into very dangerous situations. Like most of those who are skilled at martial arts, especially traditional martial arts, she begins by trying to defuse the situation. The goal is not to have to use her skills if it can be avoided. But she knows what to do if it can’t.

And that’s the thing about traditional martial arts, especially if they are taught, learned, and used effectively. The whole point is not to have to use them in the first place. But there are times when they come in very handy…

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Handsome Devil’s Samurai.

26 Comments

Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Helene Tursten, Ian Hamilton, Qiu Xiaolong, Zoë Sharp

I’ve Always Listened to Your Point of View*

Humans are, by nature, social animals. That makes sense, too, when you consider how we depend on each other for so much – sometimes even for survival. Because people depend on one another, there’s often pressure for group consensus. That’s part of why, for instance, we ask for others’ opinions about things (e.g. ‘Which outfit should I wear,’ or ‘What do you think? A Honda or a Nissan?’). For many people, it’s important to have group approval, so looking for a consensus is logical.

We see that effort to get consensus in a lot of fiction, including crime fiction. And that shouldn’t be surprising, since it’s such a human quality. For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons, we are introduced to Honoria Bulstrode. She owns and heads Meadowbank, an exclusive girls’ school. She and her business partner and colleague, Miss Chadwick, have built the place into one of the most sought-after schools in England. Everything changes, though, when the new Games Mistress, Grace Springer, is shot one night. Then, there’s a kidnapping. And another death. Now the school is at real risk of having to close. One of the pupils, Julia Upjohn, knows of Hercule Poirot through her mother, and visits him to ask his help. And, in the end, he finds out the truth behind the events at the school. In one sub-plot, Miss Bulstrode is considering whether it’s time to retire and name a successor. She has a few possibilities in mind, and wants to get input on her decision. So, she asks various people what they think She’s an independent, strong-minded person, but she still wants some sort of consensus on the school’s future.

John D. MacDonald’s short story, The Case of the Homicidal Hiccup takes place in the small town of Baker City, where Johnny Howard and his gang run everything. Nothing happens without their consent, and every business pays for ‘protection.’ Then, Walter Maybree moves to town and buys the local drugstore. He wants to run a ‘clean’ business, so he refuses to have anything to do with Howard or his associates. At first, no-one really believes that Maybree will be able to stand up to Howard, but he does. Soon, other business owners feel the proverbial wind shifting, and join Maybree in refusing to work with Howard. Soon, the consensus against the crime boss builds. Now, Howard is afraid that he’ll lose respect and support in the underworld if he doesn’t do something about Maybree. So, he and his girlfriend, Bonny Gerlacher, devise a plan to kill Maybree. Everything is set up, and Gerlacher goes to the drugstore to carry out her part of the plan. But things don’t go quite the way they were intended…

Many times, when police teams are working on cases, they try to achieve consensus on what probably happened, and on the direction their investigations should take. We see that, for instance, in Helene Tursten’s Irene Huss stories. We also see it in Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion, the first of her Anna Travis novels. In the story, Travis, who’s recently been promoted to Detective Sergeant (DS), joins the Murder Squad at Queen’s Park, London. The team is facing a baffling case, too. The body of seventeen-year-old Melissa Stephens has been found, and in several ways, her murder fits the profile of a group of six other women who’ve also been killed in exactly the same manner. But there’s one major difference: the other victims were older prostitutes. Melissa was young and not a prostitute. Now, the team has to establish whether Melissa’s murder was the work of the same killer, or there’s a different, perhaps ‘copycat’ killer. Among many other plot threads in the novel, this one includes the thread of establishing what the police really think happened. And that requires trying to find out what everyone thinks, and establish a consensus and a plan for moving forward.

One plot thread of Babs Horton’s A Jarful of Angels concerns four children growing up in a small Welsh town in the early 1960s. These four children, Lawrence ‘Fatty’ Bevan, Elizabeth ‘Iffy’ Meredith, Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Tranter, and William ‘Billy’ Edwards, have very little in common. But it’s a small town, so the children tend to spend a lot of time together, especially in the summer, when there’s no school. This particular summer, the children learn about some dark secrets that some people in the town are keeping. And they stumble on some truths that people would much rather keep hidden. Because they’re so different, the young people don’t always agree. But, they only really have each other. So, there are several scenes where they try to sift out all of the opinions and get some sort of agreement.

In collectivist cultures, group consensus, and having one’s opinion supported by the group, are very important. We see that, for instance, in Angela Savage’s The Dying Beach. In that novel, Bangkok-based PI Jayne Keeney and her partner, Rajiv Patel, are taking some time off at Krabi. They’re both very much upset when they learn of the death of Chanida Manakit, also known as Miss Pla. The victim actually led a tour that Keeney and Patel took, so they have a special interest in finding out what happened to her. The official police report is that she drowned, but Keeney doesn’t think that’s likely, since Miss Pla was an expert swimmer. And, as it turns out, she’s right. As they work through the case, Keeney and Patel learn that Miss Pla worked with an environmental group. Her task was to attend village meetings with a development company called Apex Enterprises, and articulate the villagers’ concerns about Apex’s development plans. The company has determined that getting support and positive opinions from the villages was the best way to go ahead with their plans. What’s more, Thai law requires the consent of villages for development. So, Miss Pla was involved in helping to build, or at least assess, consensus. And that played a role in her death.

Most people want the support of others for what they do and think; some need it more than others. And it’s interesting to see how that process and human need work in crime fiction. These are just a few examples. Your turn.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Foreigner’s Blue Morning, Blue Day.

13 Comments

Filed under Agatha Christie, Babs Horton, Helene Tursten, John D. MacDonald