RARA-AVIS: zebra crossings/UK noir

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 12 Jun 2002

>zebra walk -- crosswalk?

there's a great line in one of Douglas Adams' books, referring to a philosopher who is so clever he proves that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing. I read this as a kid and was rather crushed years later to discover it just meant a crosswalk and didn't involve the philosopher being trampled by zebras (which, incidentally, I believe are ZEB-ras in the UK and ZEE-bras in the US).

The one I've always been a little vague on is "punter" which seems to mean customer in some contexts and "gambler" in others, but I may just have been reading about customers in a bookmaker's shop and gotten confused.

on topic (no really) - an interesting writer who arguably belongs in UK noir is Stephen Booth. He writes rural police procedurals, starting with "Black Dog"; I think Stephen would consider his work more in the vein of psychological suspense in the Ruth Rendell tradition but there are elements of noir as well. "Black Dog" has been much discussed in some circles recently, since it has a police captain ranting about the propensity of men walking dogs to find bodies that elude police search teams. As our friends in DC have cause to remember.

I don't know if anybody's mentioned Val McDermid; she has several series and some standalones - some are more Rendellesque, but from what I'd sampled the Kate Branigan series is pretty hardboiled. The heroine is a smartmouthed young woman, and the milieu is the Manchester nightclub/music scene.


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