Author revives detective genre

Update: January, 20/2016 - 08:43

Writer Di Li. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Writer Di Li showcases an attractive writing style in detective literature and is a testament to how the genre can thrive in modern times, said writer Nguyen Quang Thieu.

"With two novels published, Di Li has a strong position in the Vietnamese detective literature genre," Thieu said at a seminar held on Monday in Ha Noi.

The seminar on modern detective literature gathered many writers, critics and criminal investigation experts. They also discussed her newly published novel, Cau Lac Bo So 7 (Club Number 7).

Di Li released her first detective novel Trai Hoa Do (Red Flowers Camp) in 2009, which was a resounding success. She quickly garnered a following because it had been a long time since the last detective novel by a Vietnamese author was published.

Detective Phan Dang Bach, the main character of the novel Trai Hoa Do, also narrates the story in Cau Lac Bo So 7.

The story begins with the deaths of seven young women. The frightening murders occurred at different times and locations. The only common thread linking the cases was the fact that all of the victims got into Hoa Sen taxis before they died.

Bach and his co-workers at times became perplexed by vague clues, causing the investigation to come to a standstill. But with much effort, they discovered a fanatical sect in which the followers belong to a "fourth gender" - the sexless. They don't have sexual desire and need neither men nor women. The head of the sect believes that sex and love are dirty acts that should be purged.

The sect created a blessed virgin from the parts of the dead women. Bach's girlfriend was among the victims, and her heart was removed.

Bach was determined to bring the matter to light. The secrets and complicated relationships were explained gradually. What the investigators discovered went beyond what people imagined.

Local detective literature

Critic Pham Xuan Nguyen said that in a detective novel, the criminal tries to cheat investigators. Meanwhile, the author strings along the criminal and investigators as well as the readers. Everything is elucidated in the last pages of the book.

The genre has been an integral part of literature in many Western countries since the 19th century. In Asia, more and more authors are pursuing this genre in Japan, China and South Korea.

"However, in Viet Nam, detective literature is silent," said writer Ngo Van Gia.

"After Pham Cao Cung, The Lu and Tchya Dai Duc Tuan, we didn't see a detective novel for nearly a century, until Di Li's first novel. She is really a rare author of Vietnamese detective literature in modern times."

"Detective literature is about hidden matters and investigators have a mission to unmask them. A detective novel can be a mix of suspense and criminal genres."

The Lu was an acclaimed author of this genre in the 1930s. He always explained the mystery through scientific evidence and arguments.

Le Thanh Huy, director of the Bach Viet Book Company, said Di Li is the only contemporary Vietnamese author to publish a detective novel, while the rest are translated from foreign authors.

"This genre fascinates a large amount of readers, so we have tried to publish excellent works frequently to meet their demand," Huy said. "Regretfully, most of the books are from foreign authors. Modern detective literature in Viet Nam has only two novels by Di Li."

Di Li said her second novel, Cau Lac Bo So 7, required a great deal of time and effort to write. She had to consult many experts from the criminal investigation department.

Her first novel has been reprinted four times within five years, 10,000 copies in total have been sold. She said the number is modest in comparison with romance stories.

"I write detective novels because it's my strong point and has been my passion since childhood," she said. — VNS