Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can a detective novel work with a female lead?

outrageoutrage by Arnaldur Indridason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's fine book but a bit of a disappointment for me. The plot didn't quite work as the red herring was never plausible for me, even for a second. And, of course, there was no Erlendur. I feel some guilt (am I a sexist?) in not fully embracing the female lead detective Elinborg, but then the detective genre is so tied to the lonely dysfunctional male detective. And while I liked getting to know Elinborg and enjoyed the parallels between the plot and her struggle to understand her teenage son who never says a word to them but writes about all sorts of personal things on his blog, I couldn't get over not having Erlendur.

I hope Indridason has a few more Erlendur books in him. This novel certainly sets us up for that (possibly) as Erlendur is on leave but then seems to have gone missing in the East Fjords, on the land I assume dealing with the demons of his past, namely his brother's death. And I hope if he writes more books with Elinborg that he pushes himself to more fully realize her as a complicated and uniquely female character.

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Lisa B. said...

Don't you think that part of the reason Elinborg won't work for you is that you want Erlendur? It might be an entirely different thing if Indridason had started out with Elinborg, built her story with the care he's given Erlendur, etc. That said...almost all the detective series I love have male detectives. So...

Dr Write said...

I quite enjoyed this book, but maybe because I knew it wouldn't be Erlendur? I think he did a good job describing her and her family/life. Maybe the problem with a female lead is that the domestic intrudes too much. Well, depending on the detective. I've read female centered mysteries that are not domestic.
I miss Erlendur, but I enjoyed this one too.