Random (but not really)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Categorical Mysteries: Police Procedurals

My love of private eyes led me to police procedural, and I found I loved them. I really like the fact that police and agents have to follow rules and do lots of paper work. It just feels so much more realistic to me than. Don’t get me wrong, I love unrealistic things–I ADORE fantasy–but if something is supposed to be reality based, then I want it TO BE reality based. (Quickest way to make me rant about a book, is to get facts wrong.)

Andrea Camilleri‘s Inspector Salvo Montalbano is set in Southern Italy. Camilleri died last year, so I expected there will be a few more books (because they have to be translated they’re always a couple years behind) and I think the he wrote a final book that was to be published after he died. The thing to know about this series is that Salvo can be a complete asshole. And he is sometimes ridiculous. But I quickly fell in love with the area and especially the loving descriptions of the food, and eventually I got used to him being a jerk and just accepted that’s how he was. (1994-2019)

He stopped in front of the restaurant where he’d gone the last time he was in Mazara. He gobbled up a saute of clams in breadcrumbs, a heaping dish of spaghetti with white clam sauce, a roast turbot with oregano and caramelized lemon, and he topped it all off with a bitter chocolate timbale in orange sauce. When it was all over he stood up, went into the kitchen, and shook the chef’s hand without saying a word, deeply moved.


John Burdett the Sonchai Jitpleecheep is set in Bangkok, Thailand and was quite unlike anything else I’d read at the time. How casual Sonchai is about the corruption astounds me every time I read one of these books, and I thought it might be exaggerated, and then I read some books set in Italy and decided, probably not. (2003-2016)

To make a good death is to proceed gracefully into a better body and a better life. The consequences of a bad death are hard to look at. You will not make a good death is a power curse; it makes Fuck you sound like a benediction.


Death-at-La-FeniceDonna Leon‘s Commissario Guido Brunetti set in Venice, Italy and is written in English by a non-native Italian. Like the Montalbano books, food and place are major characters in the series, and the books make me wish I could have seen Venice 50 or 60 years ago. Even the weak books in this series are still enjoyable, although some of the later books are definitely not up to the quality of the earlier books. (1992-)

A single flight of stairs lay off to the right, and he began to climb, noting with pleasure the slight concavity that hundreds of years of use had hollowed out of each step. He liked the way the declivity forced him to walk up the centre of the staircase.


Karin Fossum‘s Inspector Konrad Sejer is set in Norway. I read through all he books I had and then feel off when I stopped reading mysteries for awhile, and a re-read and continuing on is on my TBR. (1996-)

He wants to do everything perfectly, and he’s so afraid of making a mistake that he has ended up unable to do anything at all.


Ian Rankin‘s Inspector Rebus series is set in Scotland and although Rebus officially retired in 2007, there have been several books set after his retirement. I keep wanting to re-read this series, but obviously need to start my re-read at book two or three, because the first book is darker than I’ve been in the mood for. Rebus’ relationship with alcohol is a major character in the story, since his drinking isn’t portrayed in the way you see in noir. (1987-~2007) The Malcolm Fox series I didn’t like quite as well, mostly because, well, he isn’t Rebus. (2009-)

He had half a dozen tickets lying around, any one of which could be his fortune. He quite liked the notion that he might have won a million and not know it; preferred it, in fact, to the idea of actually having the million in his bank account. What would he do with a million pounds? Same as he’d do with fifty thou– self-destruct.

Only faster.


Henning Mankell‘s Kurt Wallander is set in Scandanavia and I admit that I only read some of the books in this series. I should go back and read others, but, well, there’s that giant TBR. The final book was very good. (1996-2009)

He thought that his work was basically nothing more than a poorly paid test of endurance. He was being paid to endure this.


Arnaldur Indridason‘s Inspector Erlendur series set in Iceland and is an amazing series. Like several other books on this list, place is a character, and despite how dark and dreary it is often described, I really want to visit Iceland. Erlendur is a depressed and miserable cop, but he’s very good at what he does, and has great compassion towards the victims he deals with, which is one of the things that kept me reading. If you read one series on this list, I recommend this one. (2000-2010)

Spring and summer were not Erlendur’s seasons. Too bright. Too frivolous. He wanted heavy, dark winters.


Christopher Fowler‘s Bryant & May series is set in London and is everything a police procedural should NOT be. But the two elderly detectives are so absolutely delightful you can’t help but watch in fascination as they go completely off the damned rails Every. Single. Time. This is another series I need to get caught up on. (2003-)

‘Mr Bryant is so old that most of his lifetim subscriptions have run out.’ Leslie Faraday, the increasingly portly liasion officer at the Home Office, poked about on his biscut tray looking for a Custard Cream. ‘He’s only alive because it’s illegal to kill him.’


Kathy Reichs Tempe Brennan is a forensic anthropologist for the Montreal police. I loved this series until very abruptly I was OVER it. My problem was seven books of Tempe and Andrew Ryan unable to make up their mind about their relationship. I just got SO irritated by it I was done with the series.(1997-)


J.A. Jance J.P. Beaumont Mysteries (1985-) and Joanna Brady Mysteries (1993-) Both of these are series I really enjoyed, and then I stopped being in the mood for mysteries for a couple years and never got back into them. Both series are on my TBR pile.


Layla Reyne‘s Agents Irish and Whiskey series are another LGBT romance (with boinking) but the mysteries were very good, and I think I tore through all three books in as many days. One of the characters is a widower, and one of the mysteries is looking into the car accident that killed his husband and partner and put him out on medical leave for months. I’m sitting on the first book of a different series, because my brain insists it can’t be as good as this series and I’ll be disappointed. (My brain is usually wrong about these things, just so you know.)

“You’ll need to distract them long enough for me to upload the monitoring program.”

“How do you propose I do that?”

“Ask them to repeat everything in plain English. It’s damn annoying.”

Josh Lanyon has written several LGBT law enforcement books, all of which have a lot of boinking. But the All’s Fair and Dangerous Ground series were all very well done, and both worked around my major problem with some a lot of law enforcement romances: fraternization policies.

It’s not what you want for your child, you know?” He had no idea.

He neither had, nor wanted, children, and his own parents had been completely accepting of his sexuality. Choosing a career in law enforcement was the thing that had driven his father to threaten disowning him.


Faye Kellerman Decker & Lazarus (1986-) I tore through a bunch of these books one after the other and then needed a break and never got back to them.


So I do love police procedurals, and have a ton that I need to go back and re-read / restart. The problem is that some of these series are SO long, it’s a daunting task. Despite that, got anything to recommend?


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