My fellow MysteryPerson, Chris Mattix and I have been raving about Ariel S. Winter’s The Twenty Year Death for the last month. Winters gives us three books in one, each in the style of a crime fiction great, with his character of Shem Rozencrantz becoming more prominent in each book. While the novel can be thoroughly enjoyed on its own, familiarity with the work of the three authors Winter’s borrows from – George Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson – adds an extra dimension. Chris and I decided to suggest three titles from each writer that best reflect each book-within-a-book.
G E O R G E S I M E N O N
(reflected in Malniveau Prison)
Maigret is sent out of town to look into the murder of a criminal who boasted of his friendship with the inspector, even though Maigret never heard of him. Much like Ariel S. Winter’s Inspector Pelieter, Maigret has to navigate the local law to find the killer.
Bar On The Seine
Simenon once again takes Maigret out of Paris. Winters takes a cue from this book to make the town of Malniveau. Both places share a rich array of citizens each inspector questions.
Maigret and the Man On The Boulevard
Malniveau Prison’s existential tone seems to come from this one. Both victims wear clothing not their own and each bring up the question of identity.
R A Y M O N D C H A N D L E R
(reflected in Falling Star)
Without a doubt, Chandler’s skewering of the movie business was an influence on Winter’s Falling Star. Written after Chandler’s stint as a screenwriter, The Little Sister was the Get Shorty of its day.
The bad marriage of Ariel S. Winter’s Shem and his wife, Clotilde, is influenced by this book. They also share a look at damaged women.
Shem Rosencrantz has a lot in common with both Marlowe’s friend Terry Lennox and alcoholic writer Roger Wade. Both Marlowe and Falling Star‘s Dennis Foster each pay a price for getting emotionally involved in a case.
J I M T H O M P S O N
(reflected in Police At A Funeral)
The plot of a murder cover up that leads to darker deed serves as a model for Police at a Funeral. They also share a less-than-alluring femme fatal.
Winter captures the mental breakdown of a man Thompson portrays in this chilling tale of a sheriff’s deputy who is also a psycho killer
It seems like every hooker, low rent gangster, and any other low fife in this book changed their name and moved over to Winter’s book.
After reading these books, you’ll develop an appreciation for these authors and for the way Winter’s captured their voices.