Re: RARA-AVIS: Private Eyes. What else?

From: Bill Bowers (
Date: 01 Mar 2001

>Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 00:19:08 -0500 (EST)
>From: (Mark Sullivan)
>Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Private Eyes. What else?

Mark Sullivan writes:

>So why am I still so much more likely to pick up a PI novel than any
>other type of crime novel when I need my hardboiled fix? It is because
>of those conventions which seem to bore you so much, Juri. I find them
>reassuring and comfortable. However, I also desire some innovation.
>And I have found it in numerous recent PI writers. I don't really look
>for this originality in plot, but find it in character. Each of these
>PIs is a distinct person, doing a job, walking down mean streets. But
>they are not the same mean streets as Marlowe's, so they cannot be the
>same PIs as Marlowe. And they don't wear fedoras. So I read John
>Shannon, Denis Lehane, Jonathan Valin, Richard Barre, SJ Rozan, Robert
>Crais, James Crumley, Stephen Greenleaf, Linda Barnes, Earl Emerson,
>Jeremiah Healy and Lawrence Block, to name but a few.
>And once I put it that way I realize that the main reason I stopped
>reading Parker is because I stopped being interested in the character of
>Spenser (interesting is the key term, not like; an unlikeable character
>can be just as, if not more interesting as a likeable one). Having read
>Perish Twice recently, I was reminded just how readable Parker is, even
>when I don't particularly care about any of his characters.

And that's why, despite a less than stellar spell in the early/mid 90s, I keep reading the Spenser books as they come out: Parker is the easiest read in mysterydom, what I refer to as "popcorn reading". I use the same term in referring to Mike Resnick's space opera novels -- and, in my lexicon, that is _not_ a pejorative, in either case. As long as you view reading as an entertainment, rather than work (which is rewarding in its own right), there are no better practitioners....

Still, as I downsize prior to a medically-dictated "move" to smaller quarters, the Complete Spenser Canon will go. (I'll never reread them.) However, I _will_ hold onto the Jessie Stone series ... and faunch for more.

Mark's first paragraph (quoted up there) comes close to mirroring my own approach to a lot of my reading.

Of Mark's "list", well, I'm a Crumley addict (and not just because his
_Phillipines_ novel, while pre-dating (slightly) my own 'assignment'. rang so true....). And, IMHO, Linda Barnes deserves to be ranked with, or above, her Sisters, among the progenitors of the Girl Dicks sub-genre.

For what it's worth, the local paper (he's a Cincinnati native) ran a
"Where Are They Now" story on Jonathan Valin a couple of months ago. Unfortunately I didn't save it. but, as I recall, the gist was that he'd stopped writing mysteries out of a combination of burn-out and being
"mid-listed", and had been doing music criticism (transmitted via email) for a speciality publisher in Texas, for the past several years. But now
(or as of November...), he making noises about another novel....

We shall see.

Bill Bowers  |  <>

"Max Collins once told me that he had the books of three of his favorite writers on one shelf--Tucker Coe, Donald Westlake and Richard Stark--before he found out they were the same person." --- Bob Randisi | Rara-Avis
"You mean Sam Holt didn't make it?" --- Mark Blumenthal | ibid.
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