Straight, Bent and Barbara Vine
"Straight...an insurance investigator recalled to his childhood uncovers a body and ghosts from his past.
"Bent...an unseen stranger confuses a crime writer with the characters who stalk the pages of his books.
"Barbara Vine...a conservator restoring a flood-damaged Venice crypt suspects that he's been implicated in a murder.
"Twelve dazzling stories by an award-winning author writing at the peak of his ability, introduced by an elegant testament to the writing process itself."
The Two-Hundred-Dollar Picasso
My Brother Jack
Love and Grudges
Cockeyed at High Noon
First Paragraph from the Author's Note
You could say that I wear three fiction-writing hats - 'literary', crime and children's - but in my head the three are indistinguishable from each other in terms of worth, writing craft and hard work. Labels like 'crime writer' seem to exist to marginalise writers and what they write, and to acknowledge the existence of conventions. I hope you're entertained by the stories in Straight, Bent and Barbara Vine. I can't deny that they employ some of the conventions of crime fiction, but I also hope they bring the genre in from the margins a little by demon- strating its artistic possibilities and complexities. Indeed, I can truthfully say that crime fiction has taught me how to write.
From time to time I'm invited to talk on 'mystery' fiction or review a 'detective' novel. I wish those terms could be abolished. All fiction is mystery fiction, and these days few detectives walk the mean streets of the genre. I prefer the term crime fiction, for it is fiction dealing with the perpetration, investigation, reasons for or effects of a crime, and my taste is for contemporary crime novels, which work on three main levels - as mysteries, critiques of society and accounts of character.
From the Allen & Unwin paperback edition, 1997.
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Last modified: December 5, 2005.