RARA-AVIS: Nothing wrong with medium boiled

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 31 Aug 2000

I suppose all of us would draw the line somewhat differently between hardboiled and the rest of the world of fiction. This used to be something I thought about a lot more twenty years ago. The expression that my memory says was more common then was "medium-boiled." It may have been just one or two reviewers who used it frequently but it did stick in my mind as a fairly effective sub-category label. There are novels that are clearly not cozies, have some HB trappings, but in various ways do not fit comfortably the HB niche. Much of Bill Pronzini's work is in this category, for example.

The mention of Dorothy B. Hughes brings back memories of that very small, very ancient but very lively lady as she attended Bouchercons and perhaps other conventions in the last years of her life. She was a very accomplished writer, including some HB novels (among which I include IN A LONELY PLACE). She was also an excellent (Edgar-winning) book reviewer who many writers of the period considered second only to Anthony Boucher as the critic they would most like to please.

It was unfortunate that family situations interrupted a wonderful career. By the time of the conventions, she was unknown to all but the most dedicated fans. I always regreted that she was not singled out for some honor at one of the conventions. It also surprised me at the time that her work seemed unknown to many of the women writers and fans who were otherwise quite active in promoting and celebrating the accomplishments of women in the field.

Richard Moore

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