s.m.harding crime fiction

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The Softboiled End

Posted by [email protected] on October 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

At the other end of the continuum is the cozy, what I'm calling the "softboiled" novel. Characteristics of cozies are that sex and violence takes place off-stage [no blood, folks, except what's viewed from a distance after the fact]; features an amateur sleuth [no cops, except as secondary characters]; normally is set in a small town, sometimes a manor house [often one that's cut off from help]; and often the series will last for years.

There are so many cozy authors, particularly from the "golden age" of the Brits [think Agatha Christie with the Miss Marple series, Dorothy Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey, Nickolas Blake, etc.] But once cozies crossed the pond, they became a staple of American mystery writers. And they became involved in a wide range of occupations -- librarians, academics, caterers [recipes provided], antiques dealers, laundromat owners, journalists, archaeologists, and most recently, experts in a wide variety of crafts [patterns/instructions provided].

And, what I would suggest is that both of these categories, hardboiled and cozy, exhibit a range of three, sometimes four "minutes" on my egg scale. Some harboiled are so hard, you could bury the egg and come back in a hundred years [a lot of extreme violence, torture, and general ugliness]. Some cozies have an awful lot of guns -- and people behind them blasting away.

Next time, I'd like to look at a couple of examples of hardboiled and cozy novels that don't fit on the extreme ends of the continuum -- and why the "boil time" on novel covers would help readers select books they'd be comfortable with.

Sorry for the long absence, but I had a large project that needed finishing. More on that later.

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