I wasn’t sure what genre to choose for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish, which requires us to list ten favourite characters from a chosen genre but, in the end, I plumped for detective fiction as I am quite partial to a good mystery.
So, eyes down and here we go………….
1. Sherlock Holmes. Even more “Da Man” than Tiger Woods, Holmes is an icon, the archetype master detective who bestrides the genre like a colossus. Can you tell that I like him?
2. Hercule Poirot. I’ve been a fan of the dapper Belgian and his legendary little grey cells ever since I was a young boy, devouring Agatha Christie novels as quickly as I could get hold of them.
3. Father Brown. Another classic detective, although the stories focus more on the human condition and issues of personal morality than on the “whodunit” element.
4. Lord Peter Wimsey. He may be a bit posh but he’s another classic. If truth be told, as with many of the classic detectives, I actually tend to prefer the short stories over the novels (with the exception of Gaudy Night).
5. Commissario Guido Brunetti. The Venice-set novels of Donna Leon are a treat and especially so for the foodie bits and the relationships between the recurring characters. Some of the more recent ones have been a little hit-and-miss as Leon has occasionally focused more on the themes she wants to explore and less on the storytelling. Nevertheless, one of my favourites and one of the few authors whose books I always pre-order.
6. Bruno, Chef de Police. Bruno, the village policeman of St Denis, in La France Profonde, is a relatively new discovery for me but a real joy. Martin Walker’s novels are gentle and ooze with local atmosphere. He is also very good on food descriptions (which, as you can tell, is a subject close to my heart) and on the relationships between the series regulars. If you haven’t read anything by Walker and you like detective stories, you should try one.
7. Dr Siri Paiboun. A 60-something ex-Laotian revolutionary and Laos’ sole coroner in the era immediately following the communist overthrow of the French and royalist regimes, the hero of Colin Cotterill’s series is disreputable, unruly, inhabited by the spirit of a 1000 year old shaman and very, very enjoyable. An easy read, the novels make for excellent light reading.
8. Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Despite the 1990s TV adaptation with the excellent Patrick Malahide, Ngaio Marsh’s aristocratic copper remains out of fashion and, in my opinion, unfairly ignored.
9. Dave Robicheaux. Recovering alcoholic and good old boy from the Louisiana bayou, Robicheaux is the star of James Lee Burke’s phenomenally good series, set in and around New Orleans. They are dark, occasionally violent and absolutely drip with local colour and atmosphere.
10. Tim Cone. Cone is the hero of two books by Lawrence Sanders, set in 1980s. Cone is a scruffy, rough-edged PI who investigates financial crimes in New York. He’s a little unusual but a great character of whom I wish Lawrence had written more.
Argh, this is terrible. I’ve had my ten and haven’t even scratched the surface of my favourite detectives. No room here for the likes of Tintin, Jonathan Argyll and Flavia di Stefano, Hawk and Fisher, Inspector Singh, Hemes Diaktoros, Cadfael, Morse or any of a hundred others. Can we do this again sometime, please?