I finished reading Dead Man Upright, the last of the Derek Raymond ‘Factory’ crime novels. It was as brutal as the others (though I Was Dora Suarez was the darkest of the five), but there was an added element of psychological profiling towards the end that was a bit out of step with the novels. There’s a sense, at the end of the series, that the unnamed Detective Sergeant is moving from being an ordinary investigator to a criminologist. I wonder if the character would have moved in that direction if more books had been written…?
Maybe it’s just as well, though: he’ll forever be a man mourning his lost life, doggedly tracking down the villains despite the gradual erosion of his sense of love and soul. There’s a sympathetic character that appears through the novels – Cryer, the journalist, who keeps trying to invite the Detective Sergeant to dinner, telling him that his wife wants him to come. The invitation is never taken up, but you have the sense that Cryer and his wife are what’s left of the connection the Detective Sergeant has to the ‘normal’ world. He’s otherwise lost in A14, the unexplained deaths division, with only policemen who have become as grim as he.
I’ve quite enjoyed the series – not for the solving of the crimes and the mystery. What I’ve liked is the gradual unfolding of the Detective Sergeant as an individual. By the end of it, I was really wishing that he’d gone to Cryer’s house for dinner just the once, thinking that it might have made him feel better. And knowing that if he’d gone, he probably would have been even more depressed by the end of the night. I don’t think a character like the Detective Sergeant ever does achieve happiness. Only satisfaction in carrying out his duties.
I’m switching over to non-fiction for a change of pace: Vincent Mosco’s The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. It’s billed as a book that explores ‘the myths constructed around the new digital technology and why we feel compelled to believe in them.’ Sounds good; it’s a book I had on a reading list from the MA that I, uh, didn’t get to. To be fair, it was a reading list that I created, and the research went in a different direction, so… I have a hospital appointment on Monday morning, with an excellent chance of a long time spent in a waiting room, and it seemed that it would probably not be a good idea to be sitting and reading a dark crime novel. Technology non-fiction is probably the safest way to go.