The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Murder in Saskatoon!

Somebody gave me a Hardy Boy book when I was a kid. Probably for a birthday. I was instantly hooked and worked my way through the entire series until I ran out. My mother suggested, “Well, if you like mysteries, you should try Agatha Christie!” I was instantly hooked and worked my way through the entire series until I ran out. While waiting for the next Hardy Boy book or the next Agatha Christie, I had to find other mystery writers. And it’s been like that ever since. Having a few favourites that I return to, and eagerly exploring the unknown looking for a new favourite.

Picking up a new mystery by a favourite author is like ordering your favourite dish. It’ll be mostly familiar- the same recipe- but will have slight a uniqueness given the circumstances of this execution- the quality of the ingredients on sale that week, the mood of the chef, other almost undetectable subtleties to the techniques involved in preparation. It’s a pleasant mix of the old and new.

As I changed, the kind of mystery I was to find satisfying changed with me. As my interest in literary skill grew I found myself drawn to authors with distinct prose stylings- Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy. As my interest in psychology grew, I found myself drawn to authors who explored human nature most skillfully- Ruth Rendall (writing as Barbara Vine), Joyce Carol Oates (writing as Rosamund Smith). As my interest in gay sexuality grew, I found myself eager for writings about gay detectives, gay victims, gay villains- Joseph Hanson, Richard Stevenson. And as my interest in all things Canadian grew, I was eager to find Canadian mystery writers- Giles Blunt, L.R. Wright.

Recently, I’ve been eating up Anthony Bidulka! Until I ran out. So I’m eagerly awaiting this series to end its hiatus and serve up some more comfort and delight. Bidulka’s website is one of the best author sites around, so check it out.

Some of the pleasure I’ve had from this series is discovering Saskatoon. It comes off as quite a charming city in the book, fastened to the prairies but open to the wide world. I wonder if the series has had an impact on Saskatoon’s tourist trade, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s become eager to check it out for real as a result of enjoying the books!

So, I put out a call: Canadian Cities, if you’d like me to write a mystery set in your city, I will require a two-week all expenses paid residency for research purposes. (Feel free to suggest locals you’d like whacked.)


Blogger Anne C. said...

I'm partial to genre books set in Ottawa. Can you work with that?

Wed Jan 23, 12:58:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I LOVE the analogy of picking up a book by your favourite mystery writer to ordering your favourite dish. (For a while, Colin could tell you how every restaurant we frequented in Toronto did calamari.)

I get addicted to different authors from time to time. Frank Herbert was one with his Dune books. I was not ready for him to die. And Nancy Drew, of course, when I was a kid. I don't expect to ever get over my addiction to Alice Munro and will have to begin reading her old stuff multiple times if, indeed as she says, she's done.

Thu Jan 24, 01:33:00 pm GMT-5  

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