Monday, 18 January 2016

a pinch of snuff; sexism

Today I finished A Pinch Of Snuff, the fifth Dalziel and Pascoe novel by Reginald Hill. It was fine, perhaps better than some of the others I've read, but I haven't really warmed to the detective duo or the writing style, and there were some pretty stretching-it coincidences. I got a set of the first six very cheap from The Book People, and it's fair to say that I probably wouldn't have persisted this far if I didn't actually have them. I'll read the remaining one I have, but no more. I'm sure I read somewhere that his novels featured puzzles and cryptic things, but there has been no evidence of that; perhaps that comes later, but I won't be there to read them.

These six have publication dates from 1970 to 1980; taking them alongside some other 60s/70s crime novels I've read in the last couple of years, and comparing them to crime novels I've read from the 20s to 40s, say, something odd strikes me. There is, to my mind, a lot less overt, personal sexism in the earlier novels, when one might say the world was a lot more institutionally sexist, and a lot more of it in those later novels, written and set in a world of increasing sexual equality and sexual freedom. Perhaps it is the 'sexual freedom' which is the key, making the men more ready to overtly view and treat the women as sex objects, for example, and to treat them crudely and roughly. I haven't thought it through very thoroughly, but it did strike me.