Re: RARA-AVIS: Serial Killer Books-The New Cozies

Mark Sullivan (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 09:35:08 -0400 (EDT)

A few clarifications on my manifesto:

First of all, I have not yet read Hannibal (I usually read paperbacks, but with the price wars, it's gotten so cheap I will probably get it and read it soon), so I was not commenting directly on it, but I think the numerous references to the ur-gothic romance Dracula, some good some bad, lead me to expect it probably falls under my theory.

That said, I think Peter is right, this shouldn't automatically bar it from discussion. I think it's by arguing over the things along the boundaries that we fix those boundaries. Sure, talking about Hammett and Chandler help us see what is at the core of hardboiled, but it is only through looking at the borderline cases that we decide how far you can go from the center and still be within the genre.

Finally, I certainly didn't mean to imply that the mere presence of a serial killer rules a book out. As Peter again rightly noted, Ellroy, Connelly and Jim Thompson, along with others have written about them, as have Block and Lehane and I don't any of their hardboiled creds are in question. And though it's been quite a long time since I've read it, I remember Red Dragon as kind of noir, focussing as much, if not more, on the effect on the hunter of his looking into the face of evil as that evil itself. Still, I think a separate, distinct serial killer genre has developed and that genre has more in common with cozies and, as Kevin added, gothic romance than hardboiled and/or noir.


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