Re: RARA-AVIS: The American Way (was serial killers)

From: Mark Blumenthal (
Date: 04 Mar 2000

Mark S:

When I wrote

> "It's the American way: all flash and no thinking allowed."

I was thinking of the big Silence of the Lambs- type books. I was indicting the authors who don't feel they have to work to write books that hang together logically. Instead their criminals muder purely because they are psycopaths. They don't have reasons for their actions that can be deduced. Their motivation never has to make any kind of sense. An author just has to create a monster villain who has near superhuman physical and mental powers because, going to 'pay by weight', the book has to be at least 400 pages. so the criminal can easly outwit the protagonist while the suspense builds as he is killing or maiming those close to the protagonist as well as strangers.

It seems these books are the big bestsellers made into eagerly awaited movies while the hard boiled books that we love are largely ignored by the mainstream. As well as hard boiled I think this type book is endemic to America as are serial killers. I think this type of book is written for the unthinking, uncritical masses who want to be repulsed and scared, but don't want to have to be critical and think about what they are reading.

Many on this list have bewailed the shrinking audience for hard boiled fiction. We both read LA Requiem at about the same time. At least it turns out the villain is not a serial killer killing randomly. There is more to the book than that. Perhaps too much. but it has clues and logic. Maybe Crais, who is clearly influenced by Chandler through Parker, was trying to make LA Requiem his breakthrough book that would appeal to more than than hard boiled readers.

BTW, Mark, if what I wrote has been going through your head try reading Alfred Bester's sf mystery, The Demolished Man. Mark

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