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.
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