A short break from blogging turned into a long break. One reason was Real Life, changing jobs, challenge, new field, steep learning curve, etc. The other was – well, I’m calling it a crisis of categorisation. The thing about country crime is that I’ve defined it very loosely as crime set in the country. This includes country house murders, but in effect excludes a great deal of cozy mysteries that thrive in a small-town setting.
I was particularly in difficulties over the latest Elly Griffiths, The Woman in Blue, which is set in Walsingham, Norfolk – large village, so fine – but also at the university where Ruth Galloway works, and then Harry Nelson says early on that he hates the countryside and doesn’t understand it, and I realise the entire series has a town/country dichotomy running through it. The archaeologist, living out on the salt marsh, versus the urban police officer. Do I include conflicted rural/urban crime? Umm, yes, I’ve decided that I will. Just as soon as I’ve drafted up an amendment to my own (currently unwritten) terms of reference.
That’s the trouble with rules, the exceptions, and the setting of limits. What happens with a series that’s set largely in the country but then the main characters go to town? Or when an urban detective makes a brief visit to the hinterland? Rebus in rural East Lothian is still an Edinburgh cop. In the end, I’ve decided to go Red Queen on the whole situation – a thing means exactly what I want it to mean, of course (Alice in Wonderland). So I’m keeping Elly Griffiths – I’m a big fan, and The Woman in Blue is excellent. (Splendid set of red herrings, by the way.) It’s as much about contemporary relationships as it is about crime, but more importantly for me, it features competent women with complicated lives. With the odd murder thrown in.