Re: RARA-AVIS: crime/anti-crime (was long post on spillane - now long post on Woolrich)

From: Peedie Monk (
Date: 26 May 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "JIM DOHERTY" <>
> Did I misunderstand your original definitions?
Hi, Jim. Yes. I'll try again. A "crime" novel is written from the viewpoint of either the criminal or the VICTIM. In other words, the viewpoint is that of someone with an emotional stake in the outcome. An
"anti-crime" novel, on the other hand, is written from the viewpoint of someone doing a job (ie a policeman or a PI). In other words, someone with no emotional stake in the outcome.

<Before you said that a "crime" novel is one with a criminal protagonist.

No I didn't. You deleted half my definition. My exact words were "Crime novels, on the other hand, are written from the viewpoint of the criminal or VICTIM. (caps not in original post).

<My problem is that you describe "crime" as equivalent to noir and
"anti-crime" as equivalent to hard-boiled.

No, I don't. I believe that there is very definitely a tendency for novels written from the viewpoint of the criminal or VICTIM to be "dark and sinister". However, as I mentioned in my original post, Richard Stark is an obvious exception. Elmore Leonard is another. Therefore I cannot equate one with the other. All I can say, and, again, this was my original point, REGARDLESS of whether something is noir or hardboiled, I am likely to respond to it better if it is written from the viewpoint of the criminal or VICTIM.

Others on the list, I'm sure, must feel like that. Or the opposite (I can't believe that some people don't have a preference for police procedurals and PI novels). In my case, I think my preference stems from the fact that solving mysteries (or the mechanics thereof) interests me much less than abnormal psychology or the psychology of characters in extreme situations.

Al Guthrie

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