Showing posts from August, 2013

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 1 - What is it?

Attacking Murder as a Fine Art 1 - What is it?

The Marble Arch was not there when De Quincey, a homeless teenager, begged on Oxford Street.

Ask seven readers and you get seven different answers. How would you describe David Morrell's latest, Murder as a Fine Art (MaaFA)? A nineteenth century Gothic novel. Detective story. Action adventure suspense thriller. Horror story. Historical fiction. A literary novel. A novel of ideas. So really, what is it? Would I like it? Or is it some confused offering, misbegotten? Where or how would a reader begin to attack such a multi-headed monster? Which heads pop up first?

(1) Whack at the head of "my nineteenth century novel," the out-of-fashion stylistic choices, the third person omniscient narrator, multiple points of view within long chapters. Keep the chapter titles. They often seem like clues. And the experiment with the first person diary excerpts from the female perspectiv…

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 2 -

Attacking Murder as a Fine Art 2 - As Historical Fiction With Literary Pretensions?

The Wordsworth Family Graves in Grasmere. An alibi.

(5) Murder as a Fine Art is a novel in the style of the nineteenth century. And it is also an "historical novel," set in a specific historical time and place which is recreated for the reader. Could we not whack some of this history on the head? The tasty historical tidbits about architecture and construction, art, music and opera, medicine (chloroform, cholera, Florence Nightingale), politics (Lord Palmerston,1848, the Year of Revolutions, the Charge of the Light Brigade), economics (the British East India Company and the trade in tea and opium). Surely Morrell is not hinting at some connection between imperialism and wily politicians orchestrating empire in the service of evil capitalism? The scenes in Coldbath Fields Prison introduce historical details of prison design and Jeremy Bentham's i…

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 3 - A Novel of Ideas

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 3 - A Novel of  Ideas

Imagine it is dark, nighttime, in a close such as this one in Edinburgh where De Quincey lived and is buried. Imagine access to a nether world, to an underground culture of beggars and street people.

(7) And whack again. There's one last head. Murder as a Fine Art is a novel of ideas. For beneath all the blood and gore, beneath the horror, Morrell's London of 1854 is a labyrinth and the quest for "the artist of death" is a hunt for a minotaur, that misbegotten creature born of human failures, demanding a tribute of blood sacrifice. Evil with a beating heart. And the green maze within London's two thousand miles of dark streets constitute one big labyrinth. This is a story about the reality of evil in the world, and our attempts to contain it. About the relationship between evil and crime. Maybe even about the role of the artist in confronting the …