Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog David Mark talking about his crime fiction, and whether his preference is for U.S or U.K. His latest book, Cruel Mercy is available now and can be purchased Here
I’m terrible at patriotism. I’ve never quite worked out how to be proud of something that I have no control over. When people boast about their origins I always wonder whether, on their journey down the birth canal, they had a choice of exits. Did the flag-waving zealots decide to emerge onto a particular hospital bed based upon the host nation’s history, political outlook and GDP? Of course, I say this as somebody born on the Morton Park estate in Carlisle. There is a photo of me somewhere as a new-born baby looking distinctly disenfranchised.
This nonsense serves as preamble to a contentious proposition. Do I prefer British crime dramas or those made across the Atlantic? Cheers for that. Great question. Like I don’t have anything better to do than tie my head in knots trying to work out an opinion.
On balance, and if you really pushed me for an answer, I’d have to say that American crime fiction is better than British.
Yes, I know. Shock. Gasp. Horror. Gulp. Swallow-your-Kit-Kat-Chunkie. Choke. Death. But hang on. I was asked a question, and I’m giving an answer, based upon the opinions in my brain. This is a radical approach and one that politicians could learn a lot from.
So, crime fiction. They were the words put forward. And my first thought has nothing to do with books. I think of the brilliant and gripping HBO and Showtime series that have completely engrossed me. Unfailingly high standards, superb production values, gripping characters and plot and enough episodes per series to build your week around. I’m thinking The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, How to Get Away with Murder and every CSI from Miami to Milwaukee. Compare that to the British output. Yes, we have Luther and Sherlock, Endeavour and Line of Duty. But three or four episodes every year or two is a rather feeble harvest. And I’ve never quite forgiven the BBC for axing Waking the Dead.
Now you’re going to ask me about books. I can sense it hanging in the air between us – an unspoken accusation, heavy on raised eyebrow and poised pen. Well … British, I think. I consider American crime fiction and I think of Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke and Chelsea Cain. I think they’re brilliant. I’d be glad to give them each a one-word testimonial for their blurbs. It would read ‘jealous!’.
But then I think of Peter May, Denise Mina and Sarah Hilary, and, I feel as though this is a competition that could go either way. So then I think about the US greats of yesteryear. Chandler, Hammett and Crumley. But we have Christie, Ted Lewis and Reg Hill. So I’m going to refer you back to my earlier statement. The notion of nationality playing any role in your output is a nonsense. No one nation produces better writers than any other. I can happily read Eva Dolan then switch over to PJ Tracy and finish off with a Sigursdottir. I’ll read what I like, thanks very much. And I may well change my mind before the morning.
What was that? Do I prefer male crime writers or female? I’m sorry, is that the time …