It’s Bloody Scotland’s 10th anniversary, which comes as a bit of a surprise. Not in the usual sense of how time flies, rather as in what, only 10? Because Bloody Scotland is now so ingrained in the cultural landscape, it seems to have been around forever! This year’s programme was a 4-day extravangza, but as I’m heading off to Skye next week, I was limited to one day only. Knowing that Marina Sofia was attending to support the Corylus Books author, Óskar Guðmundsson, the day chose itself, and Marina and I, despite having previously been in the same room at the same time, finally met.
Now I’m not in the mood for hard core gruesomeness at the moment, and so I attended two panels on the subject of cosy crime. In the first Martin Edwards, CWA Diamond Dagger winner, defined cosy crime as a tale where sex and violence are not presented In graphic detail. He, his fellow panellists and chair have between them penned a multitude of cosy crime titles. SJ Bennett has a series in which Queen Elizabeth II is the detective. The title of Jonathan Whitelaw’s novel The Bingo Hall Detectives tells us everything we need to know. RW Green continues to expand MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin Series, while Martin Edward’s latest, Blackstone Fell, is the third in his Rachel Savernake Golden Age Mystery Series. This series I shall begin to read soon, as I picked up the first two for the princely sum of £5 sometime last year, attracted mainly by their wonderful book covers. Yes, I can be that shallow.
Talking of which, I love the livery and the contents of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club Series. I, therefore, wanted to cheer when Jonathan Whitelaw expressed his gratitude to Osman for reinvigorating the cosy crime market. Without this he said, he would not have a deal for his own series. Osman’s influence was generally acknowledged by all in the panel. That was so refreshing and different in tone to snarky comments that I have heard expressed elsewhere.
Now a question. Would you classify Agatha Christie as cosy crime? By Martin Edwards’s definition, I suppose they are. As Tom Hindle (A Fatal Crossing) said in the event The Forensic Legacy of Agatha Christie, you know what you are getting when you read Christie: suspects, clues, believable and relatable motives, and a guaranteed big reveal. Always a surprise said Hindle, who has never been able to work out the solution to a Christie. Lucy Foley (A Paris Apartment) admires Christie’s concision and lightness of touch. When you consider how much malice there is in And Then There Were None, and how slim the finished work is, you can see her point.
Technical issues prevented Carla Valentine appearing remotely, which was disappointing as she is the acknowledged expert in the science of Christie’s forensics and her insights would have provided another angle on Christie’s brilliance.
Now I have read some Christie, by no means all. Because more often than not I have been able to work out her puzzles, I have probably underestimated her as a writer. But I do love the darkness in some of her works, and between them Lucy Foley and Tom Hindle highlighted a handful of other titles I shall be seeking out. As Ordeal by Innocence and Five Little Pigs were mentioned in both events, they are the ones I shall be seeking out first of all.