Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Even the most unpleasant

Some authors of crime fiction have a plausibly bleak view of the world. A few of them are also gifted writers capable of achieving high levels of stylistic elegance. Here is the one-sentence, almost conventional Author's Note from Death of an expert witness by P.D. James, a mystery based around a murder in an East Anglian forensic science laboratory:

"There is no official forensic science laboratory in East Anglia and, even if there were, it is in the highest degree improbable that it would have anything in common with Hoggatt's Laboratory, whose staff, like all other characters in this story - even the most unpleasant - are purely imaginary and bear no resemblance to any person living or dead."


  1. Yes, that's it. "Even the most unpleasant" is the gem. As if unpleasantness added to verisimilitude. (Why do I say, "as if"?)