Re: RARA-AVIS: Cozies (was: Other Contenders)

From: James Rogers (
Date: 22 Mar 2000

At 08:42 PM 3/21/00 -0500, Anita wrote:

>Although I am learning more about HB writers, my true love are the Golden
>Age of Detectives era... authors whose names when mentioned on this list
>gets hissed and egged. Gardner, fortunately, qualified in both areas.

        I actually don't hate most of that stuff. I tend to like it when it is at it's stupidest, with the map of the crime scene, the list of characters at the beginning,etc.. It's sort of a period piece thing. I enjoy the much-maligned Philo Vance books for exactly this reason.
        On the other hand, sometimes these books come up with something so stupid that even a child could not be satisfied. John Dickson Carr is one of the worst offenders, as with the cases where his victim turns out to be stabbed with an icicle or some such Rube Goldberg idea. I am still trying to recover from the one where the murder was carried out via an electromagnet concealed in the ceiling.
        However, as Chandler pointed out when he could stop himself from just deriding this kind of thing, even a persuasive cozy has to sacrifice character development in order to develop the intricate puzzle that the books depend on. I think that this is pretty reader believes in Inspector Flogbottom or Lord Cutlery,etc., as humans, and no author expects the reader to. The only cozy writer who nearly manages to pull it off is P.D. James, and as time went on her books tended so far toward the Police Procedural and the horror story that they almost fit on Rara-Avis.
        Obviously, there are many hardboiled guys who are just as mannered and incredible as any "Golden Age" author, but the best of the gang have moments where they approach literachoor. I don't think there are any of the cozy crew for whom the same claim can be made.
        My two cents.


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