Monday, February 2, 2009

Relationships

I discovered a new mystery series the other day, about a forensic anthropologist who gets in to the most awful scrapes. Someone said that in a novel the ratio of interesting people is much much higher than it ever is in real life, and I think I believe that. Anyway, I settled in for a good read amongst bones, mayhem, clues, dead ends, red herrings, and hairbreadth escapes, when I got tangled in -- her relationships. Her ex-husband, whom she still loves, she thinks, the hunky cop whom she love, she thinks, her bright but erratic daughter. All tangled in with bones, creepy cellars, mysterious artifacts, strange phone calls, and obnoxious male cops.
I mean, why can't I have a good mystery without all this baggage? The formula for a woman writer seems to be one part mystery and two parts relationship misery. Not one, not one, mystery features a well-adjusted female with a loving husband and a secure marriage. Even my favorite novelist, Liz Adair, has moved. Her first three novels were very good mysteries, with a country cop, a ranch, a loving wife, and corpses. Then, when she started writing about woman protagonists, relationships started creeping in, and her latest novel, Counting the Cost, though a whang doodler of a novel, is all about --- relationships.
Not that men don't write about relationships. They do. But with men it tends to be straightforward narration, not a convoluted agonizing about motives and moves. Can you imagine Abe Lieberman worrying about his relationship with his wife? If he does, it's simply, "Abe was worried about his wife." Or how about Matthew Scudder and Elaine. Does he torture himself about what she's thinking at every moment of the day.
And how about Sam Spade? He'd shift his toothpick from left to right in his mouth and say, "Sorry sweetheart, gotta go now."

5 comments:

bekkieann said...

I've just started Counting the Cost, but your latest read sounds pretty good to me, too! :-)

(Your post made me laugh, but I know you meant it!)

On both your houses said...

I wondered if I were being unjust, so I got a male-authored mystery, one of John Sanford's "Prey" series, where he's having relationship trouble. I was right. He talks about it, and worries, but doesn't flay himself the way that Kathy Reichs does. I can skip lots of Reich's novel and never lost the thread.

bekkieann said...

I haven't read any Reich, and maybe I should. I like romance but it can sometimes be too much for me too. The Notebook, for example. I'm probably the only woman in America who doesn't love that book. But it just goes too far for me. On the other hand, I never get tired of watching Sleepless In Seattle even though it's all sappy romance and practically no discernible plot line. I'm not sure how I differentiate, but I do.

bekkieann said...

I wrote a book review of Counting the Cost at my blog, you might be interested.

RedStateBlues

Jacqueline said...

laughing here...

I wish I was less analytical in my thinking about relationships..

what you say is true...