Sunday, July 16, 2006

Another Pip From Granger

Who will finally replace Ruth Rendell and P.D. James as icons of the British crime novel when those two worthy Dames (of the British Empire, I mean) finally call it quits? Denise Mina and Morag Joss are certainly likely candidates. Less likely but equally deserving is Pip Granger, whose books are set in London’s working class neighborhoods in the 1950s, when the city and its inhabitants were still trying to find a way to reconcile a blasted past and an uncertain future. If you read Not All Tarts Are Apple, The Widow Ginger or last year’s Trouble In Paradise, you’ll know what a rich and yeasty brew Granger has distilled from an array of characters who range from the flamboyant to the bizarre.

No Peace For The Wicked
is set in 1956, in the burgeoning sex and art center of Soho where the narrator/heroine Lizzy lives above a pub very much like the one on Old Compton St. where Granger herself lived as a child, and also contains a fascinating portrait of the Chinese dockside district known as Limehouse – a once seedy and dangerous place now gentrified beyond all recognition. A 16-year-old part-Chinese girl named Peace who comes to live with Lizzy’s family disappears, which sets in motion the Limehouse visit and other mysteries and adventures. Granger’s greatest strength is making all sorts of human behavior seem as normal as sliced bread.