Having recorded the BBC4 programme on Italian Noir crime fiction just before Christmas, I’ve finally watched it, and I did find it interesting, even though I was much less familiar with the authors discussed than with the Scandinavian writers who featured in Nordic Noir, which I talked about recently. The talking heads included Maxim Jakubowski and Barry Forshaw, who are both articulate commentators and very knowledgeable about Eurocrime.
Predictably, the major contemporary writers Camilleri and Lucarelli were considered, and interviewed, and I found myself tempted to try their work – perhaps Camilleri’s in particular. But I was especially interested in mention of a writer from the inter-war years, Carlo Gaddo, whose book That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana sounded quite fascinating. I do think that crime novels of the past often cast a very significant light on crime novels of the present, and Gaddo’s book sounded well worth acquiring. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has read it.
I’ve also watched Surviving Midsomer, an entertaining account of mayhem in the long-running Midsomer Murders series. The TV version derives from books written by Caroline Graham, a very amiable author whom I met a number of times in the 90s, but who (I think) is not at present writing any more crime fiction, no doubt in part because the massive success she has achieved has removed any financial need to do so.
I enjoyed Caroline’s early books very much, and although I gave up on the TV series after a year or two, I do think that the formula that was devised, with witty methods of murder, attractive locations and the very agreeable performances of John Nettles as Barnaby, made the shows effective light entertainment. And this spin-off programme encouraged me to watch a bit more of the Midsomer saga.