29 January 2008

Body parts strewn around

The finding of body parts, hand, arm, foot, leg would be a gruesome enough discovery. In crime fiction it is often the beginning of a murder mystery.

This was true with Giles Blunt's THE DELICATE STORM, where the finding of a disconnected arm in the forest begins a search for other parts of the body.

Then it occurred to me that recently I have read other books where there is a similar plot. Here are a couple:

NOT IN THE FLESH by Ruth Rendell
Honey the dog is a wonderful hunter for truffles. But this time she unearths something even less savoury - a human hand. Another case for the inveterate duo Reg Wexford and Mike Burden. The body is male, and has been there for over 10 years, wrapped in a purple bed sheet. In this story Reg Wexford seems to be a little less clearly drawn and we learn more about the dynamics of the team he works with. The plot is a spider web of threads. It is all about degrees of separation, those threads that draw us together. And running through all the murder mysteries, missing persons and threads of deception, something else Rendell has on her mind - female circumcision, ritual genital mutilation of young immigrant children, providing a rich undercurrent, showing Rendell as aware of the issues of her times as ever.
My rating 4.8

BLIND SPOT by Terri Persons
FBI Agent Bernadette Saint Clare has many distinguishing features. At first sight she is a small person with a superficial resemblance to Mia Farrow. Then, if she discards her sunglasses, you notice she has devil’s eyes, each eye a different colour. Bernadette’s success as an FBI Agent however owes much to her “hidden” gift: an ability to see through the eyes of a criminal while holding an object the person has held.
A dog returning from an exploring trip to a nearby river brings his young master a rather gruesome trophy - a human hand. And so Bernadette Saint Clair begins her new posting with a new boss. Tony Garcia is a little different to her previous bosses – he wants to see where Bernadette’s “gift” will take them. When a male body is found in the locality without a hand, it is Bernadette who alerts them to the fact that the hand that the dog found is female.
My rating 4.1

THE TORSO by Helene Tursten
Translated from Swedish in 2006. The story begins with the gruesome discovery of part of a human torso in a black plastic bag on a shoreline near Goteborg. Detective Inspector Irene Huss, whose superintendent suspects is a magnet for killings, is one of the team called in to investigate. When they learn of a similar torso turning up 2 years earlier in Copenhagen, Irene is sent to liaise with the Copenhagen police. Her investigations reveal strong connections between communities in Sweden and Denmark. As people she visits seem to die shortly afterwards, it certainly appears her superintendent's joke has at least a grain of truth. Irene herself is targetted by someone who does not want the connections fully revealed. Some detailed descriptions will not suit the squeamish. Irene Huss is strong, level-headed, intuitive, highly principled, but sometimes fallible.
My rating 4.6

Skeletons tomorrow...

1 comment:

Peter Rozovsky said...

Håkan Nesser's "The Return" begins with the discovery of a corpse missing a number of parts. Perhaps you could assemble a kind of dismemberment all-star team by seeing if you could make a complete body from the parts that turn up in crime stories (or, alternately, from the missing parts)!

Maybe you could save that for Halloween.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"


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