Re: RARA-AVIS: Themes of the Months

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 08 Jun 2002

Should we also include the London Lassassin and Denise Mina?

Joy, accidentally rereading _Sunshine Enemies_ and learning that, yes, Constantine's earlier books also had no chapters (I hadn't noticed) and reaffirming that Balzik as top cop was too irritable and that she much prefers the later books

> Your preliminary reading list for UK HB/Noir.
> Derek Raymond. He is sadly out of print in the UK (apart from a couple of
> atypical titles from Serpeant's Tail - The Crust On Its Uppers, which is
> early novel written under his own name of Robin Cook and comes nowhere
> his later heights. And, A State of Denmark, which although I think is a
> strong work probably shouldn't be classed under HB - it's a dystopian
> political piece.)
> However. Should you be able to get hold of any of his Factory series, you
> should.
> Dead Man Upright, He Died With His Eyes Open (my favourite), The Devil is
> Home on Leave, How the Dead Live, and most famously; I Was Dora Suarez. He
> wrote other titles that are similar, Not Till The Red Fog Rises, is the
> one I have read.
> I know I have carped on and on about Raymond but I think he is my
> author, and the most compassionate writer I have ever read. I Was Dora
> has won the most attention of his work, I think largely because it is so
> disturbing. As I say above I think, HDWHEO, is better. The "hero" of the
> Factory series is the nameless Sgt in the Department of Unexplained
> based at Poland Street police station in Soho - The Factory. I find his
> moving in the extreme. They are by no means procedurals - probably
> innacurate. Raymond's autobiograpical musings - The Hidden Files, are very
> illuminating and can tell you more about his work - which he calls the
> Novel, than I ever could. I rate him with Chandler and Hammett and Ellroy.
> Ted Lewis is most famous as the author of the novel behind Get Carter;
> Return Home. His books are currently in print in the UK from Allison and
> Busby. I'm sorry that I cannot provide US information but hope you fellahs
> can track him down. He writes well, and I think his plotting is excellent.
> The only ones I can reccomend from personal experience are Jack's Return
> Home, Jack and the Mafia Pigeon, and Plender. All of which I enjoyed/
> David Peace is being touted as the British James Ellroy, largely on the
> strength of his Yorkshire Quarter - which rewrites history in Ellroy
style. I
> am pretty sure they are called: 1974, 1977 and 1980 so far. I have read
> first two and was most impressed by the first. I think he tries an Ellroy
> style stylistic jump into stream of consciousness that doesn't quite come
> off. Still fine stuff though and I read 1977 in one feverish sitting,
> must stand for something.
> Rankin. He has been much discussed on Rara Avis anyway, but I think he can
> fairly be called the "biggest" writer on the UK HB scene at the moment. I
> enjoy his books immensely, although I am not entirely convinced by Rebus.
> And, if any US readers are having trouble with slang, it is equally
> to anyone in the UK outside of Scotland for a lot of the time. The St
> Leanords Years omnibus would be a great starting place.
> I have enjoyed what I have read by Carol Anne Davis, particularly Noise
> Abatement. She also writes true crime stuff, which I haven't read.
> This list is going on a bit now, sorry.
> Jake Arnott is a big name. I read The Long Firm, and virulently hated it,
> still haven't read He Kills Coppers, but if it manages to be less lazy,
> reductive and poorly researched than the first that can only be an
> improvement. Much better IMHO is Anthony Frewin - Soho Blues and Scorpion
> Rising (both of which have Get Carter's heavy shadow on them).
> Who else?? Nicholas Blinkoe, Stella Duffy, Val McDiarmid, Minette Waters
> many many more spring to mind.
> John Le Carre is one of my favourite authors, as is Graham Greene, but
> neither are, I think, really hardboiled - although certainly noir. Irving
> Welsh is well worth reading as well, outside our category.
> I shall pause for now and send more later. Any of the above authors are
> probably worthy of discussion. It strikes me that it would be interesting
> learn how they read in America - are nuances lost? The class system and so
> on. Is there such a thing as British hardboiled - the pulp fiction of
> islands?
> Comics and graphic novels have had a very hardboiled edge in this
country -
> Alan Moore is the absolute best but Preacher is another interesting
> Must stop, interested to hear back from anyone, and I am chasing an
>, and sites for no exit and the do not press are worth
> looking at. Anyone wanna name more UK authors I would love them too - I
> already missed out one suggested Irish author because of my own poor
> Please name him again/.
> All the best, Colin.

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