Text: Alexandra Bazhenova-Sorokina
The detective story is a relatively young genre. The fruit of the love of realism and gothic, it arose in the middle of the 19th century, became terribly popular and has not given up its positions since then. The rise of the Japanese mystery detective, the highly social psychological thriller from Scandinavia, the American existential thriller, and the continuing tradition of British puzzle detectives clearly demonstrate how varied detective stories can be in both plot and style.
We have selected eleven detective stories published in the 2000s, which are in no way inferior to such book hits as "The Girl on the Train" or "Gone Girl", and will not get lost against the background of the hegemony of modern masters of the genre Dennis Lehane, U Nesbø, Henning Mankell and Robert Galbright (hello, Joanne Rowling!).
The truth about the Harry Quebert case
The sensational debut of twenty-seven-year-old Swiss Dicker about a young popular writer in a creative crisis, the cult novel of his mentor and how novels are created in principle, at one time received conflicting responses. The Truth About Harry Quebert has been criticized for claiming to be an intellectual depth that is not actually there. Whether this is so - decide for yourself while reading. What is there for sure is a famously twisted plot with unexpected twists and a setting in the best traditions of noir: an underage fam-fatal, strange and complex men, black humor and a constantly changing picture of events - isn't this a recipe for an excellent detective story?
Guess the number
John Verdon worked in advertising for a long time, but, like the detective Dave Gurney invented by him, he decided to change his profession, and very successfully. Now Verdon is the author of a successful series of novels about a great detective who loves his family, but does not know how to show emotions. Like Sherlock Holmes, he values logic more than anything else. Verdon's debut novel "Think a Number" is a great suspense in which Dave Gurney has to unravel the mystical threats that someone leaves to his old friend. A psychological thriller with intelligent and interesting characters, everyone is pleasant, except that it is much thicker than one would expect.
American Gillian Flynn became the absolute star of the psychological thriller after the adaptation of her third novel, Gone Girl, which was directed by David Fincher, and the script was prepared by the writer herself. Sharp Objects is her debut and deserves no less attention. A journalist with severe psychological problems living in Chicago and seeking a way out in self-harm and alcohol, is forced to return to her hometown in Missouri to cover the story of the murder of one girl and the disappearance of another. Southern Gothic, well-written characters, a twisted plot - "Sharp Objects" is a clear proof that the writer's success is not accidental. Like the heroine of the book, Gillian Flynn worked as a journalist for many years, which clearly influenced her ability to tell stories.
The voice of the night bird
Robert McCammon is an American horror master who at some point decided to try his hand at a historical detective story. The action of "Voices of a Bird of the Night" takes place somewhere in Carolina in 1699. The trial of the witch, who allegedly killed her own husband and had sex with the devil himself, shakes the town of Fount Royal, and the teenage clerk Matthew Corbett grows up before our eyes and turns into a detective in an attempt to establish the truth and save the woman.Adventure, romance, secrets and conspiracies, plus the history and life of America, still subordinate to Britain, is an excellent combination for a detective, it's not for nothing that the author has already published several books about Corbett.
Scandinavia regularly supplies the world with detective and thriller masters, remember, for example, the Norwegian Yu Nesbo and the Dane Peter Hoeg. A resident of the Norwegian Horten Kurt Aust approached the popular genre from a different side: before us is a historical detective, in which there is almost less from a modern northern detective than from Umberto Eco. A cold New Year's Eve in 1699 finds several people locked up in an inn due to snowfall: among them Professor Thomas Buberg and his assistant Peter - they have to figure out what happened to the dead count found in a snowdrift. The deliberate slowness of the narrative and the lack of detective superpowers in the main characters are more than compensated by the local (and temporary) flavor.
Crimes of the past
Fans of the BBC series Case Histories of the same name know and appreciate the skill of Kate Atkinson, who invented Jackson Brody, a former police officer who turned to private detectives. The first novel in the series turned Atkinson's favorite of critics into a real icon of the modern detective, the reading of books of which, for example, Stephen King promotes with might and main. The story of three seemingly unrelated family tragedies, which Brody is forced to take on, is truly dark, and you cannot call it light reading. However, for those who are not afraid of the world of truly unpleasant people and not the fastest development of events, there is an amazing atmosphere, family secrets and a wonderful author's style.
Over the settled graves
In the small town of Spokane, Washington, a serial killer hunts down prostitutes, revealingly lays out their bodies on the banks of the river, after shoving each victim 20 bucks in his fist. Above Settled Graves is an investigative story that subtly combines an intriguing yet plausible consequence with the sophisticated style of high literature. The main character, Caroline Maybrie, suffers from depression, loneliness and asks questions about the limits of her own capabilities as a policewoman. Her former mentor and once failed lover, and now her partner in the business, also suffers - because of family problems and unrequited love. Their personal tragedies and problems are as important in the narrative as the detective plot and the image of the gradually dying city, giving rise to nightmares.
Makana is a refugee from Sudan where his wife and daughter died. He lives in Cairo, barely makes ends meet and works as a private detective. The hero takes on literally any business (because of the difficult financial situation there is no need to choose), and one day an oligarch with a dark past and no less dangerous present turns to him for a service. The first novel in the series about the detective Makan is by no means the debut of the British-Sudanese-born author Jamal Mahjub, who recently began writing detective stories under the pseudonym Parker Bilal. The protagonist of the Golden Scales is not a detective, but the city of Cairo, which with its implausible life of an oasis in the desert, a dream that turned into a frightening and enchanting reality, reminds of Dostoevsky's Petersburg.
Briton Ellie Griffiths' novels about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway now and then echo another popular heroine - forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan from the TV series Bones and the American book series Katie Reich that formed its basis. However, the similarities do not boil down to bones as evidence: if Reich wrote off the heroine from herself, then Griffiths was inspired by her archaeological husband and the Norfolk countryside, to which the writer was introduced to nature and myths by her aunt.The charm of the British writer’s debut novel is made up of a combination of a sinister story with ritual murders, the charm of the sad and funny Ruth and mesmerizing English landscapes.
The detective is not alone in the northern landscapes, and this is brilliantly proved by the South African writer Deon Meyer, who tells exciting stories in Afrikaans about the life of the Cape Town High Crimes Department. There, Inspector Grissel is torn every minute between averting a potential international scandal, giving instructions to newcomers to the department, and his own problems that require immediate solutions. Just one day, together with Inspector Grissel, involves not only a dashing detective story, but also the life of a very special multinational world of South Africa, about which I want to learn more and more with each page.
Ferdinand von Schirach
Ferdinand von Schirach himself could become an excellent hero of the novel: the grandson of Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach and the great-grandson of an American woman, whose roots go back to the signers of the Declaration of Independence and directly to the first settlers of the New World. Successful forensic lawyer von Schirach began writing stories based on cases from his practice, and quickly became famous as a writer as well. In the novel “The Collini Case,” the author, in German, subtly and restrainedly raises the question of the difference between justice and justice in the format of a judicial drama. What if you need to defend a confessed killer and you don't know his motives? No surprises and plot twists, but real food for thought, especially important in the context of a global rethinking of their own identity by any resident of Europe after World War II.