If you can make it through the quaint verbiage and exceedingly long sentences, it is quite interesting, despite the underlying fact that the author does not have a host of enthusiastic and supportive things to say about the esteemed genre. There, that sentence should get you in the mood for the article. Still, if you are interested in the history of genre, this is an article well-worth reading. Since 1944, when the article was written, the genre has grown by leaps and higher leaps.
I have this theory, and if I were doing some sort of academic paper I’d research the whole thing into existence, but for now, it simply remains a theory of mine—I believe that the worse the world around us gets, the more we escape to the inside of a mystery novel, where at the end of the day, the bad guys are caught.
Pulp fiction saw its birth in 1939 and a meteoric rise between the two Wars. It was a terrifying time. People were confused and scared. People were dying and being bombed. Whole cities were being decimated. People didn’t know who to trust or where to turn. At a time when rationing was the norm and people were learning to do without for the “war effort”, they needed some reassurance that things would turn out right in the end. Enter the detective novel. Enter authors such as Mickey Spillaine.
Eschewing the leather bound tomes of library quality, these were printed on cheap “pulp” paper, and for mere pennies you could immerse yourself in a place where justice prevailed and things came out right in the end.
Today, and I mean today—as in July 28, 2016—rather than "today" in some generic sense, our world is kind of a mess. Bad people are popping out of nowhere and killing innocents all over the world. People are confused and scared. People are dying and being bombed. Whole cities are being bombed out. People didn't know who to trust or where to turn. Again, we see a grand proliferation of crime novels in which good triumphs over evil and good is rewarded.
Here’s another New Yorker article which sort of backs up my point.
I hope I’m not boring you too much. I find this stuff fascinating. This brings me finally to today’s endorsement, a mystery in the classic sense, with clues you’d better pay attention to (no matter how minute), a serial killer, and someone kidnapped with only days to live. Enter two new crime solvers, Detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage.
All of these elements, plus the author’s deft way of getting it all down on paper, make The Cutting by James Hayman a really good read.
Detective McCabe is called to a horrific crime, where a young woman’s heart has been surgically removed from her chest, and her body left outside of a disused warehouse. This crime bears similarities to other crimes, non-local crimes, crimes from all over, and McCabe and his partner Maggie Savage are on the search of a serial killer, a smart, slick serial killer who outwits them almost at every turn.
Add to this, another young woman is missing from her morning run, and McCabe soon determines that the killer has her, but that she yet might not yet be dead. In mystery phraseology–"Time is running out."
This is a serial killer story with threads and strands which reach way back into the killer's history, back when he was almost normal. That’s the story, and I could not put it down.
I'm always thrilled to begin with book #1 in a new mystery series with new characters that I can come to know through the series. McCabe himself is a likeable, interesting character, a single dad of a teen girl. There is the angst of trying to raise a daughter. There is the ongoing problem of an ex-wife who barely knows her daughter, and wants little to do with her. Plus, there is the new girlfriend, who may or may not end up with McCabe in future novels. I suppose I will find out.
What drew me into this book, however, was the first line of chapter one:
Fog can be a sudden thing on the Maine coast.
I love Maine. My husband and I have spent fifteen summers sailing down on our 34' sailboat from our Canadian New Brunswick home and along the coast of Maine. Because we out on the water, we know about Maine fogs. Anyone writing about fog on the Maine coast will immediately get my attention. And this book did.
I also wonder, what is it about Maine which births so many crime and horror novelists - Tess Gerritson and Stephen King only to name a few.