RARA-AVIS: Definitions again: cozies and hardboiled/noir

William Denton (buff@pobox.com)
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 02:31:13 -0500 (EST) I noticed this in rec.arts.mystery. Helene Androski's "Cozies: A
Selective List" (which is at
http://www.twbooks.co.uk/authors/bibliographies/cosies.html) has the
following definition of a cozy:

| Each of the following authors wrote (or write) mysteries that
| contain most of the elements of a cozy: a minimum of violence, sex,
| and social relevance; the solution is arrived at by ratiocination or
| intuition rather than forensics and police procedure (or beating a
| confession out of someone); the murderer is indeed exposed and order
| restored at the end; the hero/ine is honorable and the other
| characters (often including the murderer) are well mannered and
| well-bred (except, of course, the servants); the setting is a closed
| community of some sort, such as a village, university, stately
| home. Desirable, but not essential: a writing style graced by wit
| and literary allusion.

This seems like a pretty good definition. Here's a cut-and-paste job of
some comments Eddie Duggan, Bill Hagen and James Doherty made about
hardboiled and noir, with some of my own tossed in:

- involves a detective, private investigator, reporter or somenoe
similar as the protagonist in a criminal investigation
- backdrop of institutionalized corruption
- protagonist is tough and cynical
- language is colloquial
- involves sex and violence
- protagonist becomes deeply involved in the crime's aftermath--
he doesn't sit in his armchair, he goes out and shakes things up

Classic examples: Dashiell Hamett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain

- features criminals or victims as protagonists, people who can't
control themselves (psychologically) or, finally, what happens to
- atmosphere of paranoia and insecurity
- need not centre on the solution to a crime, but usually involves a
- often ends dismally

Classic examples: Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich, David Goodis

Does this seem like a good start at laying out a few points that would
give us something like the cozy definition?


William Denton                       <URL:http://www.vex.net/~buff/>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada             Note I'm now at pobox.com.
 2:31AM  up 5 days, 12:39, 15 users, load averages: 1.81, 1.90, 1.99

# # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.vex.net/~buff/rara-avis/.