RARA-AVIS: Boston-City Topics

From: Mbdlevin@aol.com
Date: 28 Nov 2001

Below is a repost that didn't go through. Sorry if it turns out to be a repeat.

A few things on this month's topic (and the general rubric of cities):

I read Blunt Darts, which has more of the countryside/outlying area than Boston itself. I don't know Boston too well, but I know some other parts of New England and the Berkshires (mountains where part of the novel takes place) a bit. Mostly I know Boston/New England from other books. The topic of cities seems to have two parts: geography and ethos. Blunt Darts seemed Bostonian to me (fit my conceptions of Boston) in the nature of characters and plot lines: an old family with a dark streak (sort of like in The House of the Seven Gables or something), a powerful judge (think of Salem), a strong-willed matron (which overlaps with a hardboiled client regular). Naturally, Boston is many other things too, but of course they can't be all covered in one novel. I'd be curious if there are crime novels that make strong use of a city's geography to guide plot (maybe it can't work--urban planning as crime novel). I know of cities and towns (or at least one) where the manmade landscape reflects a history of graft/corruption and has resulted in segregation and slums (e.g., a good highway project and hospital will set one neighborhood off from another). I suppose the arid landscape of Southern California plays a role in "Chinatown." Doug

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