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

blumenidiot (
Tue, 2 Mar 1999 01:14:51 -0600 definition of a cozy:

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.
It seems cozies are much easier to define because they are set in a limited,
artificial world. OTOH, I think, we have seen, hard boiled is much harder to
pin down. Everybody seems to have their own concept of what is hard boiled.
Maybe the reason isthat hard boiled books are more like life. There are no
real limits on the characters' actions. Anything may happen. Often they
aren't even mysteries. Granted a lot of authors are very formulaic as we
have seen with Hamilton or with Spillane say, but across the genre there are
no real set standards. While tough private eye books may be typical, they
are far from exclusive.

BTW, by the definition above are the Sherlock Holmes stories cozies? It's
fairly close, but I think they differ enough from these standards to avoid
that designation.
Mark Blumenthal

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