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[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
This came up after a conversation on a board about the Inspector Lynley books* and aristocratic detectives. So, there are obviously a ton of books which have the aristocratic detective and working class sidekick scenario (Lord Peter, Campion, the Lynley books, etc.). Are there any which reverse that that anyone can recommend? Mainly I think you are more likely to get it in American detective novels which, at least in classic hard-boiled form, tend to have more problems with wealth (as in the Philip Marlowe books) and the power it brings. But I'd be intrigued to read something English that does make the working class person the leader - and the smarter - in this partnership.

Sometimes I think that if you look at older detective fiction it tends to be more socially liberal than the books which appeared in the 1930s and 40s, and did not have such an obsession with the aristocratic detective. Maybe that's because the job itself is so much more socially ambiguous - I'm thinking of Holmes and the weird class stuff that goes on with the Duke of Holdernesse in The Priory School, where he is very emphatic about getting paid properly there. And that really early detective series (1827) - Richmond: Scenes in the Life of a Bow Street Runner has a really rather shady and lower class detective.


*Confession: I read part of one of this series and there are no words for how much I loathed it. Whoever the writer is she's not exactly a fan of the working class, is she?

ETA: So far I've got a couple of excellent suggestions: the Anne Perry novels with William Monk and others (I read some of these and really enjoyed them) and Foyle's War (I've also seen a few bits of these and thought they looked great). And I'd like to sing the praises of the Fforde book I am reading The Big Over Easy which has some fun with famous detectives and their sidekicks and nursery tale characters. I really recommend it.

Date: 2006-08-13 10:28 pm (UTC)
ginger001: (roger)
From: [personal profile] ginger001
I don't know too much about detective novels... However, can it be considered not working class but almost (I mean not aristocratic at all) Detective Superintendent Foyle, from Foyle's War?? The thing is that I don't think there are novels, but you can check out the episodes ;) I love that series, not only because of the actors, the setting, WWII, is interesting to develop a detectives/crime series.

Date: 2006-08-14 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I've seen a few episodes of Foyle - you're right, it is excellent. I really like the actor; maybe I should get some of the DVDs one of these days and watch it through.

Date: 2006-08-13 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-architect873.livejournal.com
*Confession: I read part of one of this series and there are no words for how much I loathed it. Whoever the writer is she's not exactly a fan of the working class, is she?

Really? I've read the whole series but you'll have to refresh me on book one. Elizabeth George is an American writer so...hmm.

I keep waiting for Sergeant Havers's own series because that working class character as written is far more compelling than Lynley has ever been.

Date: 2006-08-14 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I don't think it was book one - it was one of them I'd picked up for a plane ride one time. But, er, there was a certain amount of the Sergeant having Issues because of her class and them, of course, turning out to be totally wrong, while Lynley sort of patronized her about said Issues. Plus there was a fair bit of drumming on about her slobbishness and ugliness; fair enough, she doesn't have to be pretty but combined with the other stuff I just got the impression the author had a low view of the working classes all round. Especially when they go up against people who know better. But I haven't read any others so maybe that changes/or is just in one? (Or I imagined it? :) )

I think there's plenty of Americans who write in that tradition of the English polite detective, but hard boiled detective fiction is another beast entirely and has much more obvious (to my mind, at any rate) issues with corruption and wealth.

Date: 2006-08-14 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-julia.livejournal.com
Havers has Issues, period. I read a fair number of the Lynley mysteries and loved them (until I fell out of love); the aristocratic stuff isn't always to my taste, but I think the harping on Havers in that first one was much more about making suresuresure you don't see her as the ugly duckling about to bloom.


Date: 2006-08-15 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-architect873.livejournal.com
This isn't ringing a bell, but my memory sucks. It's intriguing, though... Elizabeth George writes with a Social Conscience and a lot of her books reflect that nicely. So it evens out. But poor Havers!

[livejournal.com profile] k_julia's theory below sounds about right for that first one.

Date: 2006-08-15 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-architect873.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] k_julia's theory below sounds about right for that first one.

Or above. And this concludes my spamming of your journal.

Date: 2006-08-15 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Well, I may just have picked up the book when I was feeling in a mood to be offended or something of that ilk. But I remember being livid and not finishing it.

Date: 2006-08-14 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com
Anne Perry's Victorian murder mysteries have working-class heroes. One of them, William Monk, is amnesiac and never recovers his memory; the other, Thomas Pitt, has a wife who is upper-middle-class and has married much beneath herself. In both cases, class issues form an important part of the book. No sidekicks, though.

Date: 2006-08-14 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I'd forgotten those; the ones I read were really quite good.

But I'd still be interested to read if someone flipped the relationship so that the person with the most authority is actually the (so-called) social inferior, because I think it would be an interesting set up.

Date: 2006-08-14 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worldforawhile.livejournal.com
Hi! I'm trying to find all my SF friends (I'm Pumpkin Cake) and add them. Especially because there are lots of people I want to poke in the eye on SF right now.

And yay, I love book talk!

Date: 2006-08-15 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
There are a few people on snarkfest who seem to be taking things a little seriously at the moment; I was wondering if it was just me thinking this - but the mods seem to be on top of it given the new posts about not getting uptight about these things.

And I'm glad you told me who you were - I'd never have guessed it! (What prompted the movement from strawberries to pumpkins, she asks nosily?)

Date: 2006-08-15 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worldforawhile.livejournal.com
I know; I want to give everyone a Valium. Well, not everyone. A lot of them!

Well, I've never really had one online ID like a lot of other people have--this LJ is relatively new and I was reminded of how much I adore the silly french yogurt name I saw years ago when I was setting it up. Plus, I love the colors.

There's even more gossamer. . .y. . . logic behind Pumpkin Cake. I had just tried a new recipe for pumpkin cake about five years ago when TWoP made the forums searchable only if you had a user name. I just wanted to search, Pumpkin Cake was the first thing that came to mind, and I picked it. So when I wanted to search the Fametracker boards, it seemed to only make sense to keep the same name and password. However, I posted there a grand total of 5 times, maybe. Maaaybe. But again, it just made sense to port this username over to SF--and if I'd known I was going to be an Oscar Winner, maybe I'd have gone with something else. Ah, well.

What about your username?

Date: 2006-08-15 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I only really stick to a user name because it makes life easy. This one I picked because I love Catullus' poem about his girlfriend's (Lesbia's) sparrow (my default icon, this one, is of Lesbia and this bird). However, most people read it as 'lesbiansparrow' and think I am making some comment on the natural world. I did not think of this when I picked the name!

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