Welcome Wednesday guests for October:
10/01 Finding Sky author, Susan O'Brien;
10/08 Award-winning Hank Phillippi Ryan (Truth Be Told);
10/15 Indie authors Polly Iyer (Backlash) and Ellis Vidler (Prime Target);
10/22 Murder by the Month author, Jess Lourey;
10/29 Marilyn Levinson, Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery author.

Gloria Alden's latest publication is nonfiction. Boys Will Be Boys: The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys. Edited by Cher'ley Grogg was recently released and available on Amazon. Gloria wrote three essays and two poems in her chapter included in the book.

Don't miss this month's release of Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays on October 7th, in which WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances") have short stories.

KM Rockwood's
short stories will appear in two anthologies released in October. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology release by Intrigue Publishing. at their conference in October.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Dark Stuff or the Honeyed?


I’ve been standing at the intersection between ethnic heritages and cultures all my life and building bridges, so why am I surprised to find that I’m at yet another. I have to confess to the warring sides that I like both good, strong black coffee and hot, sweetened tea, preferably loose and English.

In the crime fiction world, I find a similar dichotomy, one I didn’t notice much as a reader. I only cared whether the book was well-written, had characters I could appreciate, and a suspenseful plot that kept me turning the pages. If it met my criteria, I loved and read all the books by that author, whether they involved espionage, terrorism, serial killers, quaint villages, police procedurals, hard-bitten private detectives, or young housewives and elderly spinsters as sleuths. Routinely, I found books in each of these veins that didn’t meet my criteria, as well as many that did. So I read my way happily across the broad swath of the crime novel from cozy to violent noir.

When I first started thinking about becoming a crime writer myself, I discovered that there were deep divisions between these types of novel. If it took place in a quaint, small town, had an amateur detective as  protagonist (often with a family), or was humorous, the book would be automatically classified as a cozy, too often with dismissive wave of the hand by those who preferred the dark, strong stuff. If it took place in a big city, had a private eye, cop, lawyer, reporter, federal agent, or criminal as protagonist (almost always a loner), or was bleak, violent, or dark in outlook, it was increasingly called a thriller, even though the thriller originally had a much narrower premise and choice of protagonist.

Fortunately, today many of those barriers between books have been erased. Traditional mysteries increasingly include thriller elements, especially in the final chapters where the villain may have been unmasked and tries to kill the protagonist. Thrillers now often have protagonists with close family ties who are not involved in the legal or espionage community (on either side).  Some fictional quaint villages are the sites of great violence. Some real urban areas full of criminals and violence are made darkly hilarious by gifted writers.

Crime fiction has become one broad spectrum. The extremes at both ends are still pure cozy (with crafts and/or cats where everything always comes right in the end) and pure noir (with violent loners involved in deadly carnage where everything always goes wrong in the end). Neither has been lost. So, whatever your taste in crime fiction, you’ll find authors whose books satisfy it, and if you’re like me and appreciate many different types, now is your lucky time. I don’t believe we have ever seen a wider variety of mysteries and thrillers and everything in between.

 I don’t know about the rest of the mystery/thriller community, but I appreciate this spectrum as much as I appreciate the various coffee shops that have sprung up in the wake of Starbuck’s across the country. Sometimes a strawberry frappucino is a delight. Sometimes in the heat of summer I want a fruit-and-iced-tea smoothie. And sometimes nothing but a cup of good, strong black coffee or a pot of hot, honeyed English tea will do.

What’s your preference? The dark stuff or the honeyed?

9 comments:

Victoria said...

I am so with you, Linda! I cut my teeth on Dorothy L. Sayers and Dame Agatha, but fell in love with Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. I adore a little angst and tension in my books, a subtle blending of elements!

Oh, and I think your 'tea' photo is gorgeous! LOL. Still love the cozy elements, too.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Victoria. I certainly understand the folks who only like one kind of crime novel, but I'm an omnivore. I have favorite authors across the spectrum.

Of course, there are times when my mood makes me want one particular kind of mystery. Ex., illness makes me want books at the traditional, even cozy, end of the spectrum.

Gloria Alden said...

Grrr. I just typed in a loooong message only to have Google pop up asking for my password.

Anyway, I so agree with you, Linda. I have a lot of favorite authors and like to try new ones, too. I tend not to read thrillers with psychos prowling around because I live alone with only a wimpy dog for protection - one who hides when strangers come. :-)

I like a book with an interesting plot and a mystery that I can try to solve. I guess that's why I like mysteries in which I don't know who the killer is at the beginning.

My shelves are full of books I liked too much to get rid of or books still to be read. Like any addict, I can't resist buying a book I think I'll like. I'm looking forward to getting yours next weekend,Linda, and it will be one of the first ones I read when I'm back home.

Warren Bull said...

Linda, Like you, I enjoy a wide range of works and authors. I also like to write every almost sub-genre. Right now I'm working on a collection of noir short stories and a middle grade novel about three girls whose mom runs away with a rock band.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I am so looking forward to meeting you in person at Malice!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I've read that there are two types of creatives--those who do the same type of thing over and over and those who do something different almost every time. Think Jane Austen versus Dickens. Neither is better than the other. but like you, I fall into the second group.

In today's world, though, it's necessary to a few of the same type of things to build an audience, or we can't get published.

E. B. Davis said...

Most of the time, I like the lighter fare. Reading heavy noir is like watching the news. I want entertainment in a world that doesn't really exist outside of the pages. It's safe, sometimes thrilling, but it is always entertaining. Hope to see Gloria and you at Malice!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Really looking forward to it, EB!

Betty said...

Gloria you crack me up... I too try to stay away from creepy prowler books for the same reason. I do have to say that I used to be pretty specific with the genre of books I read, however, I am broadening my horizons and checking out books I most likely wouldn't have looked at before. For instance, I am now a huge political/medical thriller fan, thanks to my friend who suggested I read J. Thomas Shaw's latest book, "The Rx Factor." I am now hooked!
www.therxfactor.com