RARA-AVIS: Re: Canadian Hardboiled

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 15 Jan 2001

Darlene Black wrote;

>I have been having a difficult time finding out about Canadian
>hardboiled fiction. Oddly enough, in one book on Canadian crime
>writing Lawrence Block is listed but as far as I know he's not
>Canadian nor do any of his books take place in Canada. My
>preference is for fiction which takes place in Canada but even
>books written by Canadians would be of interest. Does anyone know
>of a link or have any suggestions?

And our boy Bill wrote:

>I'm leaving out Ross Macdonald, and any pulp writers who wrote for
>American pulps (because I can't think of any). Mr. Smith knows a lot
>about Canadian mysteries and will chip in, I'm sure.

And our man from the Badlands, John Williams, chipped in with

>Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper came out a year or so back and is a fine Canadian
>hardboiled novel with a dash of psychological terror thrown in - something
>like Stephen Dobyns recent stuff.
>Ladies Night by Elizabeth Bowers (!988ish) was an OK feminist h/b novel set
>in Vancouver that James Crumley bought the film rights to.

Yeah, that one was pretty good. Feminism with Vancouver street cred. I hadn't realized Crumley had the rights. What happened to the project?

>Wasn't Elmore Leonard's Killshot set partly in Canada?

Yep, and Trevanian's THE MAIN, which is one of the best crime books ever set in Montreal. But neither Trevanian or Leonard are Canadian.

WHEW!!! I'll really reply to this later, since I'm almost the door, but:

Don't leave out Ross Macdonald. He and his wife, Margaret Millar, thought of themselves as Canadian, and if you read some of his contemporaries in what was then the exploding CanLit scene of the sixties and seventies, you can see the similarities. Certainly, Margaret Laurence and Macdonald would have understood each other.

One recent name you should all check out is John Swan. His collection/novel THE ROUGE MURDERS is true Canuck Noir. I just finished it, and it's the real deal, one of the best books I've read in a while. In fact, John's somewhere on this list, I think. Hello?

And no, Howard Engel's Benny Cooperman books aren't exactly hard-boiled, but his little Jewish P.I. is his own kind of tough. They're quite enjoyable books.

And one name getting a lot of attention in CanLit circles these days is David Adams Richards. Some of his stuff about life and death in the Mirimachi is as nasty and hard as it gets, even if it does give off a whiff of "literature."

Then there's John Farrow's recent CITY OF ICE, a flawed but enjoyable first stab at a thriller, by a respected Canadian author. A sequel is imminent, and I hope he pulls it off.

Man, I'm going to be late...

And Etienne added:

>I however would like to add that there were Canadian
>writers in that field, but most of them were
>English-speaking "wetbacks" being published in the
>Some of them finally took the American citizenship.
>With very few exceptions they rarely used Canada as
>background for their novels, preferring probably to be
>confused as American writers...(?)

Well, wetbacks is a little insulting, especially since, as far as I know, none of them renounced their citizenship, or snuck across the border. They simply went where they could get published. Canada's always been a hard market for hard-boiled. But some did set their stories in Canada, and some were published here: David Montrose, Ronald J. Cooke and even, once upon a time, Brian Moore, come to mind...

>*Ted Wood- series during the 80's- surely of HB
>inspiration from what I know (but I did not read it,
>as reputation is low).

Ted Woods' Reid Bennett stuff is okay, as far as it goes, but I find them right up there with all those hokey Dudley Doright Mountie stories in the pulps and in film -- they pander to Americans and Europeans who think we all still live in log cabins.

I do have lists of private eyes from Canada (and other, lesser countries) on my site (not all are HB, but many are). Go to TRIVIA and then CALLING OUT AROUND THE WORLD...

Anyway, I've really gotta go...more later....Now where are my showshoes?


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
Now online: The 3rd Annual Cheap Thrill Awards. Christmas Gifts. New fiction by Laura Lippman, Scott Wolven and Anthony Rain. And the debut of Tim Broderick's ODD JOBS. -- # To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # majordomo@icomm.ca. This will not work for the digest version. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

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