s.m.harding crime fiction

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Continuum

Posted by [email protected] on August 19, 2011 at 3:05 PM

On the home page I mentioned the cozy/hardboiled continuum, but it strikes me that not many people think of it as a gradual shift from one kind of writing to another. "Oh, I don't read hardboiled novels," says one person. As if that covers it, closes the subject. Yet I wonder if she reads Sara Paretsky. V.I. is the epitome of a hardnosed PI. Not as much of a lone-wolf as the classic PIs, not as concerned with a personal code of conduct as much as a social conscience. So where does V.I. get slotted? And it's not just the hardboiled detectives, but cozies, too. How cozy must a cozy be?

What I would love to see is an egg scale. Not kidding. A softboiled egg takes 3 minutes; hardboiled, 15. So why not a 3 to 15 scale? Take a look at a book cover and it says 5; you would know it's a traditional mystery, probably with an amateur sleuth, but no recipes and more guns. See how it might work?

My own work is normally somewhere in the middle of the scale, and the way publishers work now, it's a disappearing area. Have you noticed how many favorite authors who reside in the middle are no longer published by the Big Six, or not published at all? I have.

Perhaps there are a couple of areas we can explore from here. Let me know.

 

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2 Comments

Reply TPhillips
9:08 AM on September 5, 2011 
Let me be sure I understand the scale. By "hardboiled" do you mean inclined to dwell on gory details, or, do you mean a sort of attitude in the writing or protagonist of callousness or jaded outlook? I especially like Dexter- the tv series. Although it is not maybe a mystery format- or is it (since everyone around him is really placed in the position of potential discovery of his "true self" during each crime investigation), what kind of number would be assigned here? Perhaps this will help me understand whatever nuances are involved in deciding this "hard boiled" label. Thanks!
Reply [email protected]
5:16 PM on October 15, 2011 
Dexter hardboiled crime fiction? Yes. And noir -- we'll get to that later. Another characteristic of harboiled is a loner for protagonist, as well as one who has a jaded view of the world and its human inhabitants. Take a look at the next post, too.